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Exclusive New York City Bars Face Class Claims Over Discriminating Tip-Pooling Scheme

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel


On December 4, 2018, class claims were filed in New York federal court against celebrity watering holes Rose Bar and Jade Bar. Female employees allege that the popular bars inside New York City’s exclusive Gramercy Park Hotel violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor laws.

In the complaint, named plaintiff in the case, Allison Ullo, claims that the clubs require female waitresses to distribute their tips to male employees working as bartenders and bar-backs. Conversely, bartenders were not required to pool their tips. Plaintiff claims that when she inquired about the discriminating policy, she was told by club management, “you girls make too much money.” Plaintiff further contends that in addition to the defendant’s tip-pooling scheme being sexist, the Rose Bar and Jade Bar further violated labor laws by failing to keep a daily log of the tips collected by each employee on each shift. This includes allegedly failing to keep a list of the positions that the defendents deem eligible to receive tips through tip-sharing, the compensation each employee was scheduled to receive from tip sharing and the total tip amount each employee received from the tip-share by date. Plaintiff also claims in the complaint that waitresses were not properly compensated for work done prior scheduled shifts, such as donning their mandatory uniforms and applying makeup. In addition, no compensation was paid for non-tipped duties like cleaning tables, cleaning the room, changing the receipt roll, collecting and cleaning all of the check presenters, finding candles in the basement, bringing boxes upstairs, removing candles out of boxing and individual packaging, lighting candles and placing them on tables around the bar and locating furniture in the basement.

The suit is seeks to create a class of all similarly situated employees who filed the defendant Gramercy Park Services (the owner of the Gramercy Park Hotel) as their employer on W2 forms within the last six years, worked at Rose Bar and Jade Bar and were paid less than minimum wage. The complaint estimates that over the six-year class period the defendants caused around $5.7 million in damages to its waitresses.

The case is: Allison Ullo v. Aby Rosen et al., Case No.: 1:18-cv-11281, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Counsel Financial provides working capital credit lines exclusively for the plaintiffs' bar in all states except California, where credit lines are issued by California Attorney Lending.