Major Victory for bartender Robert Atkins against his former employers for non-payment of tips and gratuities

The case was: Robert Atkins vs. METRONOME EVENTS, INC., d/b/a PROVIDENCE NYC, CLUB CRIMSON NYC, ROSCOMMON, 226 EAST 54TH STREET RESTAURANT, INC., d/b/a LEXICON, and ROBERT PEREIRA – Index No: 650203/2014. 

As published in a New York Post article, “Lawsuit says celebrity event company stiffed staff on tips.” On behalf of bartender Robert Atkins, THE BOIES LAW FIRM brought a lawsuit against the defendants, several high-profile banquet venues and their owners, for non-payment of tips and gratuities to Mr. Atkins in violation of New York Labor Law § 196–d.

NY Labor Law § 196–d provides, in pertinent part, that: “No employer or his agent or an officer or agent of any corporation, or any other person shall demand or accept, directly or indirectly, any part of the gratuities, received by an employee, or retain any part of a gratuity or of any charge purported to be a gratuity for an employee.”

In the hospitality industry, which includes, among others, restaurants and bars, banquet halls, nightclubs, hotels, cruise lines, and theme parks, etc., it is common knowledge that when a large party is seated for an event, 18% to 20% service charges or automatic gratuities are added to the total bill.

From 2009 to 2013, the defendants contracted with clients to host 100s of high-profile events, such as the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards or MTV Video Music Award, for A-List celebrities like Donald Trump, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Mr. Atkins worked as a bartender during those events. However, the defendants collected 20% “service charges” for every event that were purported to be tips or gratuities but the defendants failed to distribute the tips or gratuities to Mr. Atkins in violated the law.

After a two-week jury trial and two days of deliberation, on March 26, 2018, the jury decided in favor of Mr. Atkins on all counts. Jerry Boies, Chairman of THE BOIES LAW FIRM, was the lead trial attorney and took the opportunity to remind employers that “this verdict is a continuous warning to employers in the hospitality industry, even if it is years later, that they will not get away with tips or gratuities their employees have worked so hard for.”

See a copy for the complaint here: Complaint Atkins v. Metronome