A former server at The Waverly Inn has filed suit against the famed New York City restaurant and its three owners over claims that, among other abuses, tipped employees are required to perform "menial tasks" for less than minimum wage.
A former server at The Waverly Inn has filed suit against the famed New York City restaurant and its three owners over alleged labor law violations. The complaint argues that co-owner Graydon Carter, known for his public criticisms in Spy magazine of President Trump’s own business dealings, “lives in a glass house” and requires servers at his restaurant to perform menial tasks for less than the minimum wage.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, described as an “all-star server” who was frequently chosen to serve the restaurant’s celebrity guests, says he and other tipped employees were unlawfully required to spend more than 20 percent, or two hours, of each shift on non-tipped “sidework,” such as filling condiment jars, filling ice buckets, and folding napkins. Specifically, servers, according to the lawsuit, were required to arrive for the 6:00 p.m. dinner shift at 4:15 p.m. and were frequently asked to remain at the restaurant after their shifts were over to fold a mandatory 50 napkins each night, or 25 on weeknights. The plaintiff claims he and other customer service employees were compensated for this untipped work at a sub-minimum rate in violation of state and federal labor law.
“The simple reason is that it is cheaper for the Waverly Inn to pay servers the lower tipped employee minimum wage to do this work than to properly staff the restaurant with employees who are paid the full minimum wage required for menial labor,” the complaint reads.
To make matters worse, tipped employees, the lawsuit alleges, were required to share their tips with a back-of-house employee who mainly worked in the kitchen and “seldom if at all” interacted with customers. This alleged practice further diminished their pay, the case says, and violated the law’s tip-pooling requirements.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that because an unlawful tip credit was applied to employees’ wages, they were also paid at improper overtime rates and supplied with inaccurate wage statements.
The plaintiff says he complained to his manager about the restaurant’s allegedly illegal requirements and was fired the next day in retaliation for voicing his complaints.