According to documents we’ve obtained and which you can read below, the Jekyll & Hyde Group (which operates Jekyll & Hyde as well as its kitschy sister restaurants the Slaughtered Lamb Pub and Oliver’s) are prepared to pay $745,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit in which eleven former employees claim they were denied overtime and minimum wage (as part of the terms of the proposed settlement, Jekyll & Hyde admits no wrongdoing). The suit was brought by attorney Robert Lipman, who tells us that in addition to the eleven initial plaintiffs, about 30 past employees have joined up. He also tells us that Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits are becoming increasingly pervasive.
“Thousands of restaurants are being sued now or being audited by the New York State Department of Labor or by the New York Attorney General’s office,” says Lipman. “There are now more wage-labor lawsuits than discrimination lawsuits in the federal courts, and the vast majority of the wage-hour lawsuits are against restaurants.” And it’s only going to get worse: Lipman says restaurateurs can now expect to face criminal and not just civil charges: “As part of the Obama stimulus plan,” Lipman says, “the U.S. Department of Labor has hired additional investigators. There are now far more investigators investigating these kinds of cases, and there are also far more wage-hour lawyers handling these cases.” Which is bad news for restaurant owners (having represented restaurateurs as well as disgruntled servers, Lipman says he’s aware that these lawsuits can put restaurants out of business) and good for the lawyers. According to the Settlement Claim Form, the original plaintiffs will receive $85,000 of the settlement and the attorneys will receive $248,333.