Ex-Waiters Sue Artisanal Restaurant Over “Cheesy” Tip Policy

New York Post - Bruce Golding
June 17, 2010

Four ex-waiters say the wage and tip policies at Artisanal restaurant stink worse than the ripest offering from the famed French bistro’s walk-in cheese cave. A suit filed this morning claims the former servers were ripped off by chef-owner Terrance Brennan, who allegedly shared their gratuities with his maitre d’s and cheese-counter workers, “whose duties make them ineligible to receive tips under federal and/or New York law.”

“Restaurant owners shouldn’t treat workers’ tip pools like a pot of fondue,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Justin M. Swartz said. “Dipping into employees’ tips is illegal.” The class-action Manhattan federal court complaint which seeks unspecified damages on behalf of more than 380 potential plaintiffs also says waiters at the Midtown eatery have been cheated out of minimum-wage payments for all the hours they worked and subjected to illegal deductions to pay for their uniforms. The suit says Brennan “continued to break the law” even after plaintiffs Heidi Johnson, Bryan Rosenblithe, Amy Garson and Srebrina Balova complained in writing, prompting a staff meeting “at which some of the servers reiterated their complaints.”

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