Terrance Brennan, Artisanal Sued for Labor Law Violations, According to Outten & Golden LLP

Jun 17, 2010, 10:27 ET from Outten & Golden LLP

NEW YORK, June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Terrance Brennan's high-end French bistro Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro allegedly violated federal and state labor laws, according to a lawsuit filed in New York federal court on behalf of four former employees by Outten & Golden LLP.

The complaint alleges that Mr. Brennan and the corporate entities that co-own and operate Artisanal have unlawfully misappropriated tips earned by servers and other food service workers by allocating a portion of them to maitre d's and cheese counter employees – workers whose duties make them ineligible to receive tips under federal and/or New York law.

The alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL) affected servers, bussers, runners, bartenders and other hourly food service workers at the acclaimed bistro.

Justin M. Swartz, Rachel Bien and Juno Turner of Outten & Golden LLP in New York represent the workers, and will seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action to recover, among other things, minimum wages, overtime, spread-of-hours pay, and uniform-related expenses for workers who have been employed since June 17, 2003.

The lawsuit alleges that, prior to filing suit, employees raised their complaints about the unlawful conduct to Mr. Brennan in an effort to persuade him to change the restaurant's policies and to pay workers their unpaid wages without the need for litigation.

Justin M. Swartz stated, "This case challenges Mr. Brennan's inexplicable decision to continue enforcing his tip policies well after employees at Artisanal questioned them. We believe that Mr. Brennan was not genuinely interested in sensibly resolving the issues."

Rachel Bien stated, "We hope this lawsuit will convince restaurateurs across the city not to take tips intended to reward the service staff and use them to supplement the pay of salaried managers and other workers who provide little or no direct customer service. In our view, this is not a legitimate way to reduce labor costs and not fair to the customers who leave the tips."

The plaintiffs are Heidi Johnson, of Bronx, N.Y.; Bryan Rosenblithe, of New York, N.Y.; Amy Garson, of Astoria, N.Y.; and Srebrina Balova, of Astoria, N.Y. The defendants are Mr. Brennan, Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro, LLC, and Artisanal Group, LLC.

The case is "Heidi Johnson, et al. v. Terrance Brennan, et al.," Case No. 10 CV 4712 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.

Attorney Contacts: Justin M. Swartz, Rachel Bien and Juno Turner, Outten & Golden LLP, New York, 212.245.1000, www.outtengolden.com.

SOURCE Outten & Golden LLP