Friday, August 03, 2007

Nobu/De Niro Restaurants Take Cue from Snotty French Chefs: Wage Violations, ULPs

De Niro's NY restaurant latest celeb venture sued
Thu Aug 2, 2007 11:43PM BST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two former waiters employed by a Manhattan restaurant chain partly owned by actor Robert De Niro sued it over wages on Thursday in the latest legal battle involving celebrity-owned New York establishments.

The lawsuit, which does not directly name De Niro, accuses Nobu, Nobu 57 and Nobu Next Door of failing to pay overtime and unfairly splitting tips.

It is among several recent lawsuits to accuse New York restaurants of wage violations and unfair labour practices.

New York restaurant staff are commonly paid tips instead of full wages. But many including immigrant busboys and food runners are underpaid and cut out of the larger tips, worker advocates say.

The suit filed in Manhattan federal court says that more than 100 waiters and busboys were cut out of their proper tips at the three Nobu establishments, and that the tip pool unfairly included managers and other usually untipped staff.

A spokeswoman for Nobu did not immediately return calls for comment.

Other lawsuits have accused celebrity French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of not paying proper wages or dividing tips at his upscale New York restaurants, and hip-hop producer and rapper Jay-Z of paying incorrect wages at his Manhattan nightclub.

Another famous chef, Daniel Boulud, agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit this week after workers at his Manhattan restaurant Daniel accused the restaurant of promoting white French workers ahead of nonwhite workers.

In yet another case, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was recently sued by a New York restaurant manager who said he exaggerated the restaurant's conditions on his television reality show "Kitchen Nightmares."

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