On August 8, 2018, Handley Farah & Anderson and the National Legal Advocacy Network filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of a group of former employees of Bizarre, a popular bar, restaurant and cabaret in Brooklyn, New York, alleging their employer failed to pay minimum wage and overtime premiums. Typically working from 40 to 60 hours per week and more than 10 hours per day, the workers were only paid hourly wages for 8 hours of work per week and paid nothing for many shifts. Paychecks provided to Plaintiffs 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 employers also routinely denied workers portions of their tips.
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 Sheila Maddali said, “The plain and brazen theft of lawfully owed wages by the owners of Bizarre is particularly egregious. Our clients’ employer effectively delegated almost the entire responsibility of paying its employees to tips from its customers, rather than paying anything even close to lawfully owed hourly wages.”
If you have any questions concerning this case or would like to share your experience working for Bizarre, please contact Matthew Handley, at 202-559-2411 or [email protected] A copy of the complaint can be found HERE.