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Celebrity Chef Restaurateur Chris Santos Sued for Violations of Fair Labor Standards

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On January 7, 2019, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York against celebrity chef Chris Santos and his business partners, who collectively own the well-known upscale New York City restaurant and lounge, Beauty and Essex. In the lawsuit, a group of former busboys and barbacks claim that the restaurant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and New York Labor Law.

The named plaintiffs, and former Beauty and Essex employees, Rosalio Lorenzo Aleman, Eric Robles and Braulio Trujillo Roman, allege that while employed at the restaurant, they were required to spend a considerable part of their shift performing non-tipped duties without being paid minimum wage or overtime. Non-tipped duties include cleaning and sweeping the sidewalk, drying dishes, preparing stations with plates and cups, moving tables from upstairs to the main salon, constructing tables, polishing cups, placing utensils in the dishwasher,, unloading liquor deliveries and arranging liquor in the storage areas. It is estimated that the plaintiffs spent around 20% of their shift performing non-tipped duties.

The suit brings causes of action for violations of the minimum wage provisions of the FLSA, the overtime provisions of the FLSA, the New York Minimum Wage Act, the overtime provisions of the New York State Labor Law, the spread of hours wage order of the New York commissioner of labor, the notice and recordkeeping requirements of the New York Labor Law, he statement provisions of the New York Labor Law, recovery of equipment costs, and unlawful deductions from wages in violation of the New York Labor Law.

The case is: Lorenzo Aleman et al. v. Guapo Bodega LLC et al., Case No.: 1:19-cv-00159, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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