Blue Hill Restaurant Settles Class Action for $2 Million

By Leeds Brown Law | June 15, 2017

New York Restaurant Agrees to Pay Employees $2 Million to Settle Wage Theft Class Action

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the New York restaurant ranked number 11 on the list of the world’s best restaurants, has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit for $2 million.

In 2016, employees and former employees sued Blue Hill at Stone Barns and its New York City sister establishment Blue Hill, for stealing wages and tips from workers. According to Eater New York, the complaint accused the restaurant of “tip pool mismanagement, illegal retention of service charges, and failure to pay overtime.” Blue Hill allegedly forced service employees to share tips with non-service employees, withheld private event service charges and did not abide by New York’s spread of hours rule.

Tips Belong to Workers

Gratuities belong to employees. They are part of the wages of a regularly tipped worker. Under the law, employers may not keep any part of an employee’s tips for themselves. Nor may the employer require an employee to share tips with non-service workers. Many lawsuits against restaurants revolve around this issue and the question of whether a tip sharing or tip pooling arrangement complies with all legal requirements.

Service Charges Belong to Employees

A restaurant cannot disguise a fee added to a bill as a “service charge” when it is really a gratuity. The law in New York is clear: when a service charge is added to a bill for a private party or dining event, the charge is considered a tip for the employees unless the customer is notified otherwise.
In other words, an employer may not keep a service charge added to a bill unless the customer is aware that the money is not for the employees.

New York Spread of Hours Rule

The Hospitality Wage Order which applies to restaurants sets forth the spread of hours rule in New York. The rule states that an employee who works more than 10 consecutive hours in a workday shall receive an extra hour of pay at minimum wage. It is important to note that the length of time includes meal breaks, rest periods and any time off between shifts.

Settlement Will Compensate Hundreds of Restaurant Workers in New York

Eater New York reports that there are approximately 250 current and former hosts and hostesses, servers, runners, bartenders, bussers and back waiters who are eligible to partake of the settlement. The lead plaintiffs in the case will receive $25,000 each, one-third will go to the attorneys for the class, and the remaining eligible individuals will share the rest, less anyone who chooses to opt out of the settlement. Blue Hill, considered by many to be America’s best restaurant, is just one of a string of New York restaurants who, in recent years, have faced allegations of wage theft, tip theft and violations of overtime laws.

Although the settlement between the class and Blue Hill does not include any admission by the restaurant that it violated the rights of its employees, the workers will be able to collect the wages that rightfully belong to them and move on. With any luck, as more and more restaurants find themselves defending wage theft lawsuits, others will take steps to ensure that their employees receive proper wages and that their businesses comply with applicable laws.

Contact Us

If you are an employee of a restaurant in New York City or Long Island, we hope that you are getting the wages legally owed to you. If not, the unpaid wage attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. are taking cases to recover money for restaurant workers. We may be able to help you and your co-workers secure unpaid tips, minimum wage, overtime pay and other monies that you are owed.

You can reach Leeds Brown 24/7 by calling 1-800-585-4658. Your consultation is free so reach out today and find out how we can help you collect your unpaid wages.



Free Consultation


Shortly after beginning medical school, I experienced some academic difficulties. After seeing my physicians, I was diagnosed with ADHD. After I started receiving specific treatment for ADHD, I requested the school to accommodate me for the disability as recommended by my physician. One of the requests made was for extended time to take my exams. The extension of time was granted...

~Kenneth Broodo, Esq.

Partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP
I hired Lenard Leeds, Esq. to assist me with my wrongful termination. I was let go of my position because of my age. I was not only told to take a decrease in pay but also required to work fewer hours to do the same job. Additionally, they kept asking me “When are you going to retire?” I visited the...


I want to thank you again for assisting me in overseeing my issues with my employer. This is the second time I have used Lenard Leeds, Esq. to fight for me. This time I was a National Sales Manager of a drug company, where acts of discrimination based on my age, national origin and retaliation took place. Mr. Leeds and...

~Law Professor

Discrimination Case

$19 Million

Settlement Secured in a National Origin
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


One Old Country Road, Suite 347 Carle Place, NY 11514


get directions


101 Greenwich Street, 22nd Floor New York, NY 10006


get directions
Call Now!