As restaurants around New York continue to raise prices and eliminate gratuities, a chic Upper East Side establishment has been hit with what might soon be a thing of the past: a tipping lawsuit. D. Maimon Kirschenbaum, a plaintiff's attorney who specializes in hospitality wage violations (he's sued Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, and others), alleges that Le Bilboquet, Philippe Delgrange's fancy French power spot, required a former waiter to share tips with managers and unfairly paid that employee a sub-minimum wage.
Loubna Hajib, who worked at Le Bilboquet from June 2014 to December 2015, should have been entitled to the full minimum wage, versus the lower tipped minimum wage, because she was required to share tips with "silver polishers" and "managerial captains," the suit alleges. Both federal and state law prohibit restaurants from pooling tips with cooks, managers, and other employees that don't typically receive gratuities.
The lawsuit also alleges that:
- Le Bilboquet was not entitled to pay Hajib the lower tipped minimum in the first place because the restaurant "did not give...appropriate notice" that it was taking a tip credit and paying her that lower wage, as required by state law.
- The plaintiff was not paid "any hourly wage" during five days of training at the beginning of her employment.
- The restaurant did not pay Hajib for "required" wine training class held on "most Fridays," even when Hajib was not scheduled to work those days.
- Le Bilboquet did not pay the plaintiff time-and-a-half overtime for working in excess of 40-hours per week.
Kirschenbaum is seeking class action status for the suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which would cover 60 or more current and former employees. Le Bilboquet, at the time of publication, had not yet responded to Eater's Thursday night email inquiry about the allegations.