Zahav Agrees to Pay Servers $230,000 in Class-Action Suit
UPDATE: A 20-year Philly restaurant veteran has responded to the Zahav lawsuit. Click here to read the response.
In December, former Zahav server Tanya Peters filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the Society Hill restaurant owed servers big bucks, and now Philly Mag has learned that Zahav has agreed to pay to settle the case.
The lawsuit alleged that Zahav was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and Philadelphia’s Gratuity Protection Bill (GPB) by making servers share their tips with non-server employees.
For instance, Peters claimed, she paid the silverware polisher $5 per shift out of her tips, while the GPB states that a server’s gratuities are “the sole property of the employee or employees to whom it was paid …”
“Oh,” laughed one restaurateur we spoke with anonymously about the law. “That’s illegal? Everybody does that. I guess I better call my lawyer.”
The GPB, which controversially passed in 2011, does allow an employer to require servers to pool tips and split them at the end of the night, but the law states that those pooled tips can only be used to pay employees who “directly provide service to patrons.” And a silverware polisher, the lawsuit contends, doesn’t count.
The suit was filed to cover 41 people who worked as servers at Zahav between December 27, 2013 and January 11, 2017. Peters, who now lives in Oregon, worked at Zahav from March 2014 until December 2015.
The settlement agreement, which still has to be approved by a judge for “fairness,” was signed by Steve Cook, who owns Zahav along with Michael Solomonov. The restaurant owners have made no admission of wrongdoing or liability.
Part of the settlement includes a clause that forbids anyone involved in the case from talking about the terms of the agreement, but Philly Mag has obtained the key points.
Zahav has agreed to pay $322,500 plus all payroll taxes and withholdings to settle the matter. That number includes $90,000 for the lawyers who filed the case. The 41 employees will receive prorated amounts ranging from $65.34 to $18,412.83, with Peters getting $7,026 plus a special $2,500 “service fee.”
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