Sunday, September 25, 2011

Frum Lawyer Causing Huge Chillul Hashem by Suing Treif Restaurants, Putting them out of Business and lining his pockets with millions of $$$!

Numerous high-end New York City restaurants have been sued over wage and tip complaints in the last few years -- most by Manhattan lawyer Daniel Maimon Kirschenbaum (above). He has collected $30 million in settlements (with a 30% fee for himself) from a number of eateries.
A top restaurateur is throwing in the apron, saying he’s done with New York City because a wave of vicious lawsuits, coupled with draconian state regulations, threatens to cripple the industry.
 Eateries have paid out close to $30 million in settlements over wage and tip complaints in the past few years -- and that’s just from suits filed by one Manhattan lawyer, Daniel Maimon Kirschenbaum.
 Money-hungry lawyers, through frivolous lawsuits, are shaking down the very foundation of Manhattan’s restaurant industry,” fumed Joe Bastianich, co-owner of Eataly, Del Posto and Babbo.

We opened Eataly and put 700 jobs in the New York economy. Since then we haven’t opened another restaurant in New York, nor will we,” Bastianich told The Post. “We opened three other restaurants, in California and Connecticut, worth 1,000 jobs that could have been here in New York. Someone in Albany needs to understand the agenda, what this is really costing the greatest restaurant city in the world.”

New wage rules from the state Labor Department, which took effect in January, regulated tip distribution for the first time. For restaurant owners who lose their cases in court, the damages are now much harsher.
“You’re forced to settle. Why go to trial and risk a $5 million settlement if you can settle for a million and a half?” Bastianich said.

The avalanche began five years ago as lawyers filed class-action cases drawing together busboys, waiters and other staff, sometimes by the hundreds. The more plaintiffs, the larger the potential settlement, with lawyers typically taking one-third of the payout.

“I invented this business,” said Kirschenbaum, a Manhattan lawyer who has launched more than 100 suits in federal court, including one against Bastianich and his partner Mario Batali.

The class-action suit claims the restaurant denied overtime to workers, didn’t pay a required premium for long shifts, and illegally kept a portion of tips.
“This is an industry where people thought they were getting away with stuff,” Kirschenbaum said. “They alter time sheets. They get service employees to share their tips with kitchen staff to help pay their salary in the back of the restaurant.
“Restaurants have been getting away with this for a long time.”
But Bastianich maintains that workers in New York eateries are paid the “best restaurant wages in the world.”
“Plaintiffs are waiters and busboys making 70, 80, $100,000 a year,” he said.

The settlements, which usually come with no admission of wrongdoing, often don’t end up enriching waiters and busboys much.
In the case of the $2.5 million Nobu settlement, $833,333 went to Kirschenbaum’s and other firms. The 200 or so workers who sued got an average payment of $3,300 each.

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