Daniel Boulud is the latest chef to be hit with a lawsuit alleging that he failed to properly dole out overtime and “spread of hours” pay. A former Café Boulud and Bar Pleiades bartender, Arie Ohayon, is bringing what lawyer Maimon Kirschenbaum (who tells us he’s filing papers this afternoon) hopes will become a class-action suit, alleging, among other things, that non-service employees were illegally included in the tip pool.
It’s pretty much a boilerplate Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit except for an allegation that Ohayon was fired after he wrote a letter to management complaining that another employee, Maura McGuian, handled ice with her bare hands. Apparently Ohayon was very concerned about the health code. This isn’t the first lawsuit against Boulud; back in 2007, he settled a discrimination suit for $80,000. We hope to have more details for you shortly (we’ve asked Boulud for comment), but in the meantime, have a look at the complaint.
Update: Attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum tells us more about the circumstances under which Ohayon was terminated. He says his client sent management a letter complaining that, among other things, his fellow bartender was “straw testing” drinks (i.e., dipping a straw in them and tasting off of the straw before serving to customers). He was dismissed less than a week later. “They said they fired him because on Sunday mornings you’re supposed to take all of the bottles down from the shelf that’s behind the bar and put them on the bar so the cleaning person could clean the shelves, and that Sunday morning he had them still up on the shelves. And the reason he had them there was that a brunch event was going on.” Kirschenbaum believes he was actually fired because of the letter, and tells us it’s illegal to fire someone because they complain about health code violations. Kirschenbaum says that his client was paid $6 an hour and received “$9 and change” in overtime, but the pay he received for private events was not calculated into his weekly overtime pay, which is illegal. Kirschenbaum says that in this case, managers weren’t the ones who were illegally included in the tip pool; more like “a guy in the back polishing silverware.”