The restaurant industry is a litigious one, and with good reason: lots of employees have been swindled out of tips and discriminated against, and even some of the most famous chefs in America have been sued. Here are five.
In December 2014, chef Caesar Ramirez and proprietor Moe Issa of New York’s Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare were sued via a class-action lawsuit by a former sous chef, a prep cook, and several servers who made multiple allegations of discrimination and wage theft. Not only did they claim that a significant portion of tips, overtime, and service charges were withheld from them, they also claimed that the chef discriminated against Asian employees. The restaurant is still battling the lawsuit.
Back in 2009, chef Anne Burrell was sued by former employees of her restaurant Centro Vinoteca. The suit alleged that Burrell referred to her female employees with derogatory names. No word on how the case played out.
Back in August 2014, chef David Burke was sued by a former employee of David Burke Townhouse who claimed that Burke was intolerant of his Muslim beliefs. According to the lawsuit, the employee was forbidden from leaving the restaurant for a couple hours each Friday in order to pray, and when he left to pray anyway he was fired.
Paula Deen was famously sued for discrimination in 2012, when a black former employee of Uncle Bubba’s, a restaurant co-owned by Deen and her brother Bubba, claimed that she was subjected to sexual harassment and racially offensive talk by Paula. Deen lost her contract with Food Network as well as most of her endorsement deals when she admitted under oath that she’d used racial slurs, and the lawsuit was dropped the following year.
Even Daniel Boulud is no stranger to being sued. In 2007, seven current and former employees from Latin America and Bangladesh claimed that white workers were promoted ahead of them, and that Boulud and his management used racial slurs. The case was settled, with the employees getting eight percent raises and managers getting training in racial sensitivity.