NEW YORK CITY — Dinosaur Bar-B-Que shortchanged its employees by “unlawfully” pocketing fees meant for staff during catered events at the popular chain restaurant, a new lawsuit claims.
Two employees at the restaurant's outpost at 700 W. 125th St., Nicole Asencio and Michael Asencio, claim the chain has failed to give staff a cut of the service fee charged for catered events since 2011, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The pair — who also filed the suit on behalf of more than 40 unnamed employees, including servers and bartenders — said the eatery charged patrons who had events catered on-site an 18 percent service fee, the suit says.
However, the company misled customers about the fee because a “reasonable customer” would think the charge paid for the staff, the suit claims. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que also did not properly disclose whether the fee paid for staff.
Workers at the restaurant were under contract at catered events and performed “food and service related tasks,” according to the suit.
The suit cites a state labor law statute noting that an employer cannot “retain any part of a gratuity or of any charge purported to be a gratuity for an employee.”
The company listed the “mandatory charge” on bills, menus, contracts, invoices and other catering receipts, and was “unlawfully retaining employees’ gratuities” from catering services at the Harlem location, as well as all other outposts across the state, the suit notes.
The restaurant has branches in Gowanus, as well as upstate in Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Troy.
The suit is seeking an undisclosed judgment The law firm representing the employees did not return a request for comment.
In 2015, employees sued the restaurant for allegedly forcing some employees to perform “back-of-the-house” work without getting paid the full minimum wage.
A representative for Dinosaur Bar-B-Que did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday regarding the suit.