by Susie
I’d suggest writing to ABC and ask them why they’re featuring a common criminal on their new afternoon show:

Celebrity chef and “The Chew” co-host Mario Batali and his business partner, Joseph
Bastianich, have agreed to pay $5.25 million to current and former employees for bilking a portion of their tips.

As many as 1,100 waiters, bartenders, captains and other staff members of his New York restaurants including Babbo and Del Posto may be compensated, the Associated Press reports.

The class-action suit was filed in a Manhattan federal court in 2010, with claims that Batali and Bastianich had a standard policy of deducting as much as 4 to 5 percent of the tip pool each night.

6 thoughts on “Pig

  1. In case no one has noticed ABC has turned into a right wing clown show only in it for the entertainment dollar. And they’re dragging the New York Times along with them. Expect to see Rash Lindberger pontificating with his sewer logic in ABC prime time any day now. They already have Stefencan’tgetoutofmyownwayopolis on the air running off at the mouth about nothing far too often after all. What a lovely mess Diane Sawyer has wrought.

  2. scumbags. they probably pay their cooks lower than the shockingly low standard pay too, for the privilege of working for a celeb chef.

    and philly’s own celeb chef, jose garces, uses slave labor (interns) so i won’t go to any of his restaurants anymore, no matter how much i like his food.

    surely they can get rich enough w/o exploiting their workers?

  3. I’m not about to say that what Batali was doing was ethical or even technically legal, and in fact it was probably neither or he would have likely not made a settlement agreement of that scale. I’m not a lawyer and I haven’t dug up any of the filings in PACER. All the journalism on this seems to be either tediously and trivially partisan (In These Times) and/or devoid of detail (WaPo) so it isn’t clear why it took 2 years to settle.

    What is abundantly clear is that this was not a criminal case but a private civil class action case, so calling Batali a “common criminal” is unjustified hyperbole. It is also clear from the available figures and simple arithmetic that if the settlement is roughly 5% of tips for 1,100 people, they averaged around $100k in tips in the whatever the period involved and were satisfied with getting a bit less than $5k on average to settle. This is not a typical sort of restaurant labor dispute.

    Also, a note of reality… The handling of tips, tipped employees, tip equity, tipping via credit cards, etc. is rich with legal oddities and vagueness, unfair traditions, endemic ineptitude, and almost universal technically criminal violations of labor and tax law that it would be wrong to prosecute. If you can find 2 lawyers who will give consistent formal advice on tip policies, you can safely bet that they are either in collusion or are plagiarizing the same probably-wrong sources.

    I’m in no position to patronize any of Batali’s restaurants and haven’t seen him anywhere on TV except The Daily Show in many years, but I do know a good rule for customers at any restaurant who want to minimize unfair tip handling: tip with cash. Even in places where tip division is done fairly and management takes nothing, card systems will never fail to take their cuts. In addition, cash tips will in aggregate get reported for division and tax purposes based on the aggregate ethics and situational knowledge of the server getting them, and that is almost certain to be better (if not more legally sound) than that of management as influenced by lawyers and card handlers.

  4. “One would think it’s possible to make money without stealing it from your workers.”

    Of course it is, especially if you’re Mario Batali. It has also historically been really easy to misunderstand the regulations about tip pooling and a bunch of other details that have at various times and places been common practice, clearly legal, or both. One of the many good things done by DoL in the last few years is clarification/simplification of what sort of pooling they see as valid, so there’s less room for plausible deniability. And of course, making money in the restaurant business in general is tough but that’s never an excuse to mistreat workers.

    Surprisingly, one of the better articles on this case is at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/mario-batali-lawsuit-tips-settlement-298079 which clarifies that this was not 4-5% of all tips but 4-5% of wine sales tips (however that might be split out…) and had a hand-waving cost justification (research and breakage) that might have been perfectly legal if charges had just been assessed directly outside of the tip pool. Oh: and if the costs had been real.

    The whole tipped worker area of labor law is a giant pile of crap, much like piecework or independent contractor labor law. Beating up on either side in a civil case where both sides claim to be satisfied with the settlement they’ve made just seems pointless. Like taking sides in an amicable divorce agreement.

  5. In more than half the States business interests have lobbied through something called a tip credit by which the employer is allowed to credit customer tips against minimum hourly wage.

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