Our Chicago class action attorneys are seeing more and more unpaid overtime violations for restaurant and retail employers. Although punishments have been put in place to prevent employers from taking advantage of their workers, the courts still see many repeat offenders. Once such alleged offender is celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck.
According to a recent lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Puck’s catering company, Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events failed to distribute to its employees the 20% “service fee” that it charged its customers. It also required employees to work overtime on a regular basis without paying them one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for each of those overtime hours. Frequently, employees allege, they were not paid at all for the hours that they worked in excess of 40 hours a week.
The lawsuit has been filed by two former bartenders who worked for the catering company at Irving Plaza and the Gramercy Theater. The suit is seeking class action status for all employees of the catering company who worked in those two locations.
The lawsuit claims that Puck signed a deal with Live Nation in 2008 to provide bar services to Irving Plaza and the Gramercy Theater, with “minimal food offerings”.
The lawsuit alleges that these venues “frequently have more than one, and as many as three events in a 24-hour period”. Because of this busy schedule, the lawsuit alleges that Kristin Noriega and Oliver Gummert, the two named plaintiffs filing the case, sometimes worked as many as 70 hours per week without receiving the proper overtime compensation for those hours.
Puck and its parent company, Compass Group USA, allegedly added a 20% “service charge” for events. By law, any money for tips is required to be distributed to employees and the employer is not permitted to withhold any of that money. According to the lawsuit, customers “are told that the service charge is a tip for the class. In reality, none of the service charge had ever been paid to the class”. This practice is deceptive to customers in addition to being unfair to employees and illegal.
The company had been warned by its corporate office in 2011 to call the fee an “administrative charge”, but that change never happened.
One of Puck’s companies has already been sued for committing the same offense at the US Open in 2011.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against restaurants, and hotels for forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Wheaton and Joliet. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Naperville and Chicago Hts. overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.