Smith & Wollensky in class action lawsuit over wages
28-Jul-10 A complaint by a waiter at Smith & Wollensky has resulted in a class action lawsuit against the Chicago steakhouse.
On Monday, Judge Ruben Castillo granted a motion for class certification in a case filed in U.S. District court last year.
That means that anyone who has worked at Smith & Wollensky since March 25, 2006 earning below minimum wage plus tips is now a plaintiff. Also included is anyone who may have worked more than 40 hours a week but was paid less than time-and-a-half.
This could amount to 140 current and former employees, according to Douglas Werman, an attorney for the waiter, Gerald Schmidt.
(Above) Smith & Wollensky as seen from the Chicago River in June.
Schmidt claims hourly workers, including waiters and bartenders at the restaurant, are paid less than minimum wage now $8.25 in Illinois.
Employers can pay less than minimum wage if wages plus tips equals the minimum. But Smith & Wollensky is accused of requiring employees to work at the lower wage before the restaurant opened and after it closed, when they would not be tipped.
Based in New York, Smith & Wollensky is owned by Patina Restaurant Group LLC, which purchased the nine-restaurant chain in 2007 for $79 million.
By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | Published 28-Jul-10 3:25 AM