Famed chef and The Chew host Mario Batali has reportedly settled with his restaurants' workers to the tune of $5.25 million. Workers had charged that Mario routinely skimmed up to 5 percent of their tips to illegally offset the cost of sommeliers' salaries. The settlement, which may be the largest tip skimming settlement in history, is expected to be paid out to 1,100 waiters and other servers that worked at famous Batali eateries like Babbo, Otto, and Esca.
I've eaten at at least three of Batali's restaurants and personally find them wildly overrated. But little did I know what was going on behind the scenes. Had I known, I never would have stepped foot in the places.
When your servers work so hard to serve you, and are earning so little salary-wise, the tips should go to them. Maybe shared with the bartender who makes your drinks, but that should be it. If you need a sommelier, then hire one and pay him or her a decent salary. Patrons may not have even used a sommelier during their meal so why should they get part of a tip?
Workers also claim they were routinely forced to work over 40 hours a week and weren't even getting minimum wage.
Making yourself rich off the hard work and minimal pay of other Americans is, of course, a time-tested capitalist way of life, but that doesn't make it right. And at least follow the law.
I just hope that the money goes to the servers and not mostly to the lawyers, which tends to happen in these big lawsuits.
No doubt this kind of thing is going on in restaurants all over the land. If you want to make sure your server gets the tip, you might want to hand them cash at the end, and tell them to stuff it in their pockets. Though most of these places probably have surveillance cams and the bosses are watching out for this kind of thing. Just wrong.
Have you ever had a boss demand part of your tips?
Image via mariobatali/Instagram