Chef Bobby Flay, US Open Food Service, Stuck In Wage Disputes

In the ongoing battle of wage disputes, throwdown man Chef Bobby Flay is the latest to become embroiled. According to the Village Voice, Flay has agreed to pay $800,000 to settle claims filed by former employees of his Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steakhouse, and Bolo restaurants. Though Flay denies any wrongdoing, the settlement came about with the intention of avoiding formal court proceedings.

According to Business Week, the same thing seems to be happening to the food facilitators of the U.S. Open. Daniel Yahraes, a former employee at the U.S. Open, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit recently, claiming seven food service employers involved in catering the U.S. Open events withheld pay from workers. Chicago-based Levy Restaurants Inc., one of the companies named in the lawsuit, ran restaurants at the Tennis Center and provided food service for concession stands and luxury suites, serving more than 700,000 U.S. Open attendees.

The plaintiffs say that besides being deprived of overtime, they had improper deductions taken from their pay. The restaurants illegally kept gratuities, a 21 percent service charge for catered food and beverages in suites, violating New York labor law, according to the complaint.

Many restaurants have been engaged in legal battles over the past few years, with some big-name chefs and restaurants dragged through court over wage and overtime disputes, the most recent being the famed Cipriani restaurant group in New York City.

~Jennifer Heigl

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