Employees of Popular Beverly Hills Bar and Restaurant File Lawsuit in response to Years-Long Scheme to Steal Wages

Aug 19, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA –Handley Farah & Anderson and Bet Tzedek filed a lawsuit on behalf of current and former employees of Caffe Roma, a popular bar and restaurant in Beverly Hills frequented by Hollywood elites, alleging that for years Caffe Roma and its owners have wrongly withheld tips owed to the workers and failed to provide meal and rest breaks required under California law.

This case highlights an injustice faced by restaurant workers across the country.  With over 14 million employees nationwide, the restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing private sector employers in the nation. Unfortunately, despite the growth and profitability of the industry, restaurant jobs provide largely low wages.  Theft by employers of even these low wages is all too common.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United, whose mission is to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce.  With a membership of over 25,000 people who work in restaurants, over 300 high-road employers and thousands of engaged consumers united for raising restaurant industry standards, ROC has campaigned for and won millions of dollars for workers whose tips and wages have been misappropriated by their employers.

Commenting on the scope of the wage theft scheme at issue in this case, Plaintiffs’ counsel Sebastian Sanchez, staff attorney at Bet Tzedek, said, “The owners of Caffe Roma have used employees’ tips to unlawfully subsidize payment of their managerial staff. Furthermore, they have denied meal and rest breaks to its employees as required by California law, frequently requiring workers to complete 13-hour shifts without any breaks at all.”

Plaintiffs’ counsel Matthew Handley stated, “Caffe Roma believed that it could misappropriate employees’ tips and deny them meal and rest breaks in violation of clear California law.  This case will hopefully send a message that such a business model is not only flawed, but illegal, and must be stopped.”

Linda Rijel, a former worker at Caffe Roma and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit added: “I once had to work an 11-and-a-half hour shift and wasn’t able to stop to go to the bathroom or eat anything the whole day. That day, my ankles were swollen, I was completely dehydrated, and I hadn’t been able to go to the restroom all day. People don’t know how hard on your body waiting tables is. And to add to that, the manager in the back was taking my tips.  Restaurants need to make sure that waiters can go to the restroom or drink a glass of water.  At Caffe Roma money was more important to the owners than the workers’ health, our well-being and ultimately, our humanity. I hope this lawsuit is a banner of hope to employees that are being mistreated by dishonest restaurant owners, because action is always spurred through hope.”

If you have any questions concerning this case or would like to share your experience working for Caffe Roma, please contact Sebastian Sanchez at 323-648-4708 or [email protected], or Matthew Handley, at 202-559-2411 or [email protected] A copy of the complaint can be found HERE.

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