Workers Protest at Mario Batali’s Del Posto Restaurant

The Wall Street Journal
August 4, 2010

A nonprofit group for restaurant workers is preparing to file a lawsuit against Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, holding two protests outside their acclaimed Del Posto restaurant on Wednesday.

Restaurant Opportunities Center has been in talks with the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group for several months, according to Rekha Eanni-Rodriguez, the group’s co-director. ROC has made a name for itself filing wage claims against high-profile restaurateurs.

Batali and Bastianich could not be reached for comment.

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About two dozen employees participated in two separate protests outside of the restaurant on 10th Avenue in the Meatpacking District.

Eanni-Rodriguez said the group has started receiving inquiries from workers at some of Batali and Bastianich’s other restaurants. We suspect that this is something that’s going on across the board, ” she said.

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The protest also come on the heels of a unpaid wages lawsuit filed against the Italian restaurant giants in federal court last month.

In that suit . . . two workers at the Babbo restaurant in the West Village alleged they were deprived of tips because the restaurant was improperly subtracting 4.5% of its wine sales from the tip pool each night. The suit also alleges that the restaurant wasn’t paying employees for an additional hour if they worked more than 10 hours per day, as required by state law.

The attorneys hope to transform the case into a class-action suit, which they said would affect 50 to 100 employees. The attorneys amended the lawsuit last week to include nine other current and former employees from five additional restaurants run by B & B Hospitality.