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Yankee Stadium Food Workers Cry Foul Over Tips

Monday, May 09, 2011

A group of Yankee Stadium food service workers hit their employers with a putative class action Monday claiming the companies kept surcharges listed on food menus as gratuities in violation of New York labor law.  In a complaint filed in New York federal court, the workers allege that Volume Services America Inc. and Legends Hospitality LLC — the concession providers for the old and new stadiums, respectively — misappropriated their tips by keeping a service charge added to the cost of food and drinks served to field-level patrons in certain sections of the venue, rather than turning the money over to the workers.

A menu placed in those seats' cup holders for items such as beer and hot dogs that could be brought by food service workers stated that a 20 percent service charge was added to all menu items, and that “additional gratuity is at your discretion,” according to the complaint. But the workers were not given any of the funds the customer laid out for the supposed “service charge,” the complaint alleges.  “The law is very clear that the 20 percent service charge, if no other information is given, clearly belongs to the workers,” said Brian S. Schaffer of Fitapelli & Schaffer LLP, who represents the plaintiffs.

While leading customers to believe that the service charges were gratuities to be paid in their entirety to in-seat food service workers, the companies kept the money entirely for themselves, according to the complaint.  The suit alleges that by accepting the service charge, the companies willfully violated New York labor law, which calls for all purported gratuities to be turned over to the workers who provided the service. (click on link to read full story)

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