Late last month, a former server at Uptown’s elegant French bistro Lilette filed a 17-page motion seeking certification of a class action lawsuit against Harris Cuisine LLC, the company that owns Lilette, and its owner and chef John Harris.
The motion, signed on January 25 by judge Barry Ashe in the Eastern District of Louisiana, alleges that Lilette’s owners violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by routinely forcing its servers, including plaintiff Gustavo Figueroa, to contribute to an “illegal and arbitrarily-determined” tip pool, and that time servers spent performing side work before and after shifts went uncompensated.
The suit also claims that the amount the servers would contribute to the tip pool was determined following each shift and differed by shift, and that defendants took a tip “credit” as part of management’s compensation. Figueroa alleges that by utilizing this system, defendants were able to avoid giving managers and other hourly employees raises and were able to avoid paying certain employees, like a glass polisher, altogether.
Figueroa, who worked at Lilette from February 2018 to May 2018, also requests a three-year statute of limitations for staff that had previously worked at the restaurant to be included in the claim, which Harris doesn’t oppose.
Lilette has received high praise since chef and owner John Harris opened its doors on Magazine Street in 2001, both for its expertly-executed French menu and its romantic atmosphere; it appeared on Eater’s list of 38 essential New Orleans restaurants in the fall of 2017. Harris opened Exchange Alley, a restaurant in New York City’s East Village, in 2012 with chef Paul Gerard, which has since closed.
- GUSTAVO FIGUEROA, II CIVIL ACTION VERSUS HARRIS CUISINE LLC, HARRIS JMH PROPERTIES LLC, and JOHN M. HARRIS [JNSWIRE]
- Lilette chef-owner John Harris talks about Exchange Alley, his new restaurant in New York [NOLA.COM]
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