HFA Files Wage Theft Lawsuit on behalf of Servers, Bartenders and Busboys against Westchester County Restaurant and Wine Bar

Jun 27, 2018

Handley Farah & Anderson filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of a group of former employees of The Marina Grille and the Gnarly Wine Bar in New Rochelle, New York, alleging their employer failed to pay these workers minimum wage and overtime premiums dating back to at least 2015.

The case alleges that the former employees typically worked well in excess of 60 hours per week and more than 10 hours per day.  Nonetheless, according to the complaint, the workers were paid by their employers on an irregular basis, often with one month passing between payments and only after numerous requests for payment.  The lawsuit alleges that when paychecks were ultimately provided to Plaintiffs, those paychecks were for far less than either the New York minimum wage or the federal minimum wage, and never included an overtime premium as required by both federal and state law.  The case alleges that the employers also routinely denied workers substantial portions of their tips; tips were put into a tip pool and frequently retained by the employers.

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.  Surveys have shown that over one third of people who work in the restaurant industry have had to work “off the clock” for no pay, and almost half have worked overtime without being paid the legally mandated time-and-a-half overtime wage.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are members of 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 Matthew Handley said, “We believe that the blatant and pervasive theft of lawfully owed wages by the owners of the Marina Grille and the Gnarly Vine was egregious. As the lawsuit alleges, in some instances, these workers toiled for years without making anything resembling minimum wage, never mind a wage on which they could eke out a sustainable living.”

If you have any questions concerning this case or would like to share your experience working for the Marina Grille or the Gnarly Vine, please contact Matthew Handley, at 202-559-2411 or [email protected]. A copy of the complaint can be found HERE.

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