According to paperwork recently filed in court, Lidia Bastianich recently released a letter to former and current front of the house staff at Felidia offering them monetary compensation if they agree not to sue her restaurant. The letter is in regards to a lawsuit that deals with unpaid tips to employees brought forth by thorn in the industry's side Maimon Kirschenbaum.
Earlier this year, Mario Batali, Joe and Lidia Bastianich, and their company Pasta Resources Inc. agreed to pay out $5.25 million in a class action settlement in response to labor lawsuits. This time around, it seems that the team behind Felidia would rather pay first and avoid the litigation. The letter reads: "We have decided to offer our former and current front of house staff an additional lump sum payment for past work -so long as you return a signed Release Agreement to us. While we are under no obligation to do this, we think doing so will help us all move forward." The total amount on offer is $1952.85. Kirschenbaum is, of course, not pleased, arguing to a judge that Bastianich is misleading her employees into believing that signing the release would prevent them from being included in the suit.
Find the letter from Ms. Bastianich below:
UPDATE: Counsel to Lidia Bastianich, Carolyn D. Richmond, responds with this statement about the lawsuit:
Mr Kirschenbaum seems to want to have his cake and the rest of NYC's dough too. After securing millions in settlements against the B&B group and other restaurant groups in NYC, it didn't take much imagination to expect he would go after the matriarch Lidia Bastianich next; one of the last remaining restaurants in New York not sued by Kirschenbaum or his colleagues. Ms Bastianich has built her reputation by being a straight shooter with her guests, her viewers and her employees.
The only "misleading" going on here is by Kirschenbaum’s (and the plantiff’s bar) continual efforts to portray the hardworking NYC restaurant industry in a negative light. I do not believe Mr Kirschenbaum has had a single jury verdict to date indicating wrongdoing by a NYC fine dining restaurant with respect to tips. The only conclusion that can be drawn from these suits and settlements is that restaurateurs can't risk their businesses or their employees livelihoods. as a result, the restaurants have overwhelmingly chosen to settle in the end rather than continue to fight in court for years and at tremendous expense.
· Mario Batali Settles $5 Million Class Action Law Suit [~ENY~]
[Dine Hudson Valley]