By now, chefs around the world are contemplating the gargantuan $5.25M awarded to plaintiffs to settle tip-skimming allegations at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich‘s eight restaurants. The funds will benefit some 1,100 current and former employees who worked at the restaurants from July 22, 2004 to Feb. 14, 2012.
The scale of the award must be giving restaurateurs pause. According to The New York Post:
The pending deal — which could cover about 1,100 current and former workers at eateries including Babbo, Esca and Lupo — is believed to be the largest-ever in a New York wage-and-tip suit.
Does the settlement tarnish the duo’s reputation? Or is it a smart business move – get a deal, move on, get going on another project?
Of course, Mario is not the only celebrity chef/food show host facing court proceeding and publicity. Paula Deen has her own set of legal problems. Lisa T. Jackson, former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, which is owned by Deen and Deen’s brother, Earl Hiers, has accused them of subjecting her to sexual harassment, assault, battery, and emotional distress. Deen has denied the charges – yet Mario and Joe’s deal might be seen as giving impetus to such claims – whether or not they are true.
Isn’t the best policy to be decent and honest with employees – without whom no restaurant can exist (at least until robots take their places).