ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - A New York-based restaurant will pay its waitstaff $500,00 for allegedly failing to pay them the required 20 percent surcharge, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said earlier this month.

Per Se, a Manhattan-based fine-dining restaurant, had a designated “service charge” in its contracts with customers who booked the restaurant for private dining and banquet services. The restaurant allegedly didn't pay the waitstaff the surcharge between January 2011 and September 2012.

An investigation conducted by Schneiderman's office revealed that Per Se listed the 20 percent service charge on receipts and printed materials to customers. When customers would ask about the charge, Per Se allegedly said it was equivalent to a gratuity.

However, instead of giving the money collected through the charge, Per Se used it for restaurant operations, Schneiderman said in July 2 news release.

“Today’s agreement will compensate workers at Per Se who were shortchanged out of their hard-earned tips,” the attorney general said. “And it reaffirms the right of satisfied restaurant-goers not to be misled about whether a ‘service charge’ is actually paid to workers as a tip, which the law requires.”

New York's labor laws prevent employers from keeping any portion of a worker's gratuity.

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