Former waiters sue Peter Luger Steak House over pay

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Four former waiters from Peter Luger Steak House in Great Neck are suing the well-known restaurant, alleging that it failed to pay them overtime and minimum wage.

The lawsuit filed last week in federal court claims that dating from March 2007 the restaurant failed to pay the waiters for the half-hour of prep work they performed before their shifts began, the half-hour of work they did after their shifts ended, and the extra hour they often had to stay until all the customers left; often required them to work through breaks; and regularly deducted $20 from the waiters' daily tip pool to give to the kitchen workers, who were not part of customer service staff.

The waiters' attorneys allege both federal and state labor-law violations and seek class-action status for the lawsuit. Under New York State labor laws, the statute of limitations for violations is six years, compared with two to three years under federal law. "Our position is that Peter Luger knowingly disregarded the employees' rights and their obligations under federal and state law," said Douglas Lipsky, a partner of Bronson Lipsky in Manhattan.

Peter Luger's attorney, Carolyn D. Richmond of Fox Rothschild, also in Manhattan, disagreed. "We firmly believe the restaurant has been in full compliance with all state and federal wage and hour laws," she said.

The lawsuit has been assigned to U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

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