When Mr. Pink made his famous speech in defense of not tipping in Reservoir Dogs, he left out a very basic point. Waiters don't make the minimum wage; they live off our decency. Workers have more to worry about than European-style tippers, though: A group of them has sued the management of the Old Homestead Steakhouse, to the tune of $1 million, for skimming their pool of gratuities. That suit is small potatoes, however, compared to the massive class-action case against Fireman Hospitality Group, brought to our attention by the Restaurant Opportunities Commission.
Over 200 plaintiffs are suing Fireman, the company that owns Shelly’s New York, Redeye Grill, and other restaurants. “I thought it was very strange that we had to tip out the managers,” Jennifer Mascia, the waitress who began the legal battle with Redeye Grill last January, tells us. “Then after I did some research, I realized that’s not legal. They were doing it right out in the open for nine years.” Predictably enough, the blogger behind waiterrant.net, an acerbic everyserver who dishes the seamy underside of the business, finds little to be shocked about in all this. “It happens everywhere,” he says. “It’s just a scam.” If these lawsuits pan out, it might wind up being a much less successful scam. Any other outcome would be a real gyp.