Friday, March 17, 2017
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
The development’s just the latest in overheated competition between a number of upscale New York Chinese joints whose owners and chefs have variously worked together, then accused the others of being knockoffs, including Red Stixs, Philippe Chow and Mr. Chow.
Page Six has exclusively learned a Red Stixs waiter filed a police report alleging “criminal obstruction of breathing” against Michael Reda, a Red Stixs owner who was a founder of Philippe Chow.
Sources said the alleged Dec. 12 blowup began when server Alex Dobrin, 35, of Queens, told Reda he wanted to “pick up some shifts” at Jue Lan Club, a new Chinese restaurant being opened in the old Limelight space by Reda’s ex-partner-turned-rival, Stratis Morfogen.
That’s when, Dobrin alleges, Reda lost it. Police sources told The Post’s Shawn Cohen that the waiter was “in fear for his safety” after Reda allegedly “began to strangle him and threatened to kill him.” Dobrin also claimed, according to police sources, that Reda threatened: “ ‘I will stab you in the neck’ while reaching for a fork” and “I’ll send someone to break your legs.”
Dobrin filed the report at the 17th Precinct the day after the alleged incident, but no arrests have been made. Reda and Dobrin did not get back to us for comment.
Morfogen’s opening 275-seat Jue Lan with Robert Collins and Vikram Chatwal after a nasty falling out with his former Philippe partners. In 2014, Philippe sued Red Stixs’ Hamptons location, accusing it of being a copycat, and Philippe was sued in 2009 by Mr. Chow’s Michael Chow for ripping off his cuisine and name. Page Six reported this week that a convoluted six-year legal battle between Philippe Chow and Mr. Chow finally seems to have come to an end.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Kuvin Law FIles Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Based Upon "Sexual Orientation Discrimination" Under Title VII
WASHINGTON — David Baldwin is asking a federal court to order the Obama administration to pay up for alleged anti-gay discrimination he claims to have faced while working for the Federal Aviation Administration in Miami.
Baldwin’s lawyer told BuzzFeed News that the purpose of the lawsuit is much larger, though, aimed at expanding the scope of a recent agency ruling that found anti-gay discrimination is barred by existing civil rights laws.
“Mr. Baldwin’s case has the ability to affect more people than the [Supreme] Court’s Obergefell [marriage] case because there are more gay men and women who have jobs than same sex couples who want to get married,” Baldwin’s lawyer, Lowell Kuvin, told BuzzFeed News on Monday evening.
Baldwin — who alleges that he was passed over for promotions at the FAA’s Miami Tower Terminal Radar Approach Control facility because he is gay — took his case to federal court this past week, following up on a ruling in his favor this summer from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that allowed his case to move forward.
Baldwin argued — and the EEOC agreed — that the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes a ban on discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.
“[A]llegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex,” the EEOC ruled in July in Baldwin’s challenge. Baldwin then had 90 days to decide whether to take the case to federal trial court.
In the complaint, filed in federal court in Miami on Oct. 13, Baldwin sued Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx and FAA administrator Michael Huerta in their official capacities. Baldwin claims that he “was not selected for a permanent position as a [Front Line Manager] at the Miami Tower facility” and that sex — specifically, the fact that he is gay — was the “motivating factor” for the fact that he was not promoted.
Baldwin alleges that he “was singled out due to his sexual orientation and treated differently than heterosexual co-workers by his supervisors due to inappropriate gender stereotyping,” according to the complaint.
As legislative efforts to pass explicit LGBT protections have stalled in Congress, the argument that sexual orientation discrimination should be or is covered under existing civil rights laws has been advanced in recent years by some advocates and, this summer, by the EEOC.
While only the Supreme Court could issue a definitive ruling on the interpretation, EEOC decisions are given significant deference by federal courts. For now, however, the EEOC’s decision is only binding on federal agencies.
“While the decision by the EEOC in Baldwin v. Foxx was a giant step forward for extinguishing sexual orientation discrimination by allowing federal employees to pursue sexual orientation claim under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VII, it was just a small step forward for non-government employees,” Kuvin, Baldwin’s lawyer, told BuzzFeed News on Monday evening. “The next logical step for Mr. Baldwin, who would like to see the protection of Title VII extended to non-government employees alleging sexual orientation discrimination, was to bring the issue to the federal courts.”
Kuvin added that Baldwin only decided to take the matter to federal court “once it became apparent that the issues were not going to be resolved” through conciliation with the FAA, which Kuvin said “never responded” to Baldwin’s attempts to resolve the matter without litigation.
The move on sexual orientation coverage by the EEOC is not surprising. In 2012, the EEOC took similar action regarding the coverage of anti-transgender discrimination, finding in a case brought by Mia Macy that gender identity-based discrimination is covered under the sex discrimination bar in Title VII. The Obama administration has since concurred with that interpretation, but it has not announced such agreement with the EEOC’s interpretation as to anti-gay discrimination.
Baldwin’s case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams, appointed to the bench in 2011 by President Obama.
One leading advocate of the EEOC’s cases encouraged others to file similar cases.
“The EEOC’s strongly reasoned Baldwin ruling deserves deference from federal courts across the country, and we hope the federal district court in Florida will join federal courts in Washington state and Washington, D.C. in ruling that gay plaintiffs can bring Title VII claims,” Freedom to Work’s Tico Almeida told BuzzFeed News. “More LGBT Americans should follow the lead of courageous people like David Baldwin and Mia Macy by filing claims under the sex discrimination bans in the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, and other existing federal statutes.”
The practice originated with European aristocracy, whence the term itself comes — “To Insure Promptitude,” thus TIP. The Financial Times editorial where I found that much-disputed fact went on to call the practice a “demeaning custom,” “outdated” and, just for good measure, “obnoxious.” That was just one of five articles the newspaper devoted to the subject. It has not been so worked up since Scotland threatened to bolt the United Kingdom.
Why? Well, there is much to criticize about tipping. Waiters usually do not share their tips with the kitchen staff, including the all-important chef. (There are, apparently, two classes of chefs: celebrity and impoverished.) It can be demeaning to rely on tips since some people like to see a waiter grovel or they like to criticize just about every aspect of the meal.
It is true also that female waiters not only have to put up with the occasionally obnoxious behavior of co-workers but also sometimes have to wade into a dining room fetid with men who think a good tip permits a sexist comment (or a leer). A New York Times anti-tipping article says that “nearly 37 percent of all sexual harassment claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission come from restaurants.” Maybe so, but eliminating tipping will not eliminate boorish behavior.
There are, I grant you, some problems with tipping, but it is, overall, worth keeping. Like almost everyone else in America, I was once a waiter — and a busboy, and a short-order cook and a dishwasher — and I never felt I was groveling for tips. I did feel, as a friend told me before I went off on a wait job, “Remember, you work for the customer, not the restaurant.” If tipping doesn’t quite shift loyalties so neatly, it does put loyalties into play.
The waiter is my guy for the duration of the meal. He’s my agent. He looks out for me and, if he does a good job, I look out for him. He has an incentive to give me exceptional service, not some mediocre minimum, to ensure that my water glass is full, that my wine is replenished, to make sure that the busboy does not prematurely remove the plates — that I am not hurried along so that the owner can squeeze in another sitting. The waiter is my wingman.
I hesitate to mention another reason I like tipping. I like to make a difference, not just to be a bit of a big shot or be noticed or appreciated, but to give some of what I make to those who make less. I’m not flipping silver dollars into the air or hurling twenties around with abandon, but I am a healthy tipper (once a waiter, always a tipper) because this is my way of recognizing a good job. A healthy tip is like a pat on the back.
The tip is recognition of service well-performed. It shows that I care, that I notice — that I recognize what the restaurateur way back in the kitchen does not because he cannot. Why would I want to treat everyone as if they were equally good at their tasks? I like to reward, but occasionally I like to punish. Make my meal an ordeal, make me anxious about whether you got the order straight, and no 20 percent tip will come your way. Maybe that’s not democratic, but a meal is not a town hall meeting.
Tipping, I regret, will go the way of the tie or the dinner jacket. It’s complicated. It needs to be calibrated. It’s something you learn how to do over time, and when, as a kid, I used to watch my father tip the waiter and the mai tre d’, I felt that mastering this would be almost as difficult as fatherhood itself. I’ve got most of it down now (I still don’t know what the mai tre d’ gets) — and I consider it both a responsibility and a privilege. I could go on, but my table — of course — is ready.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Clients of the Law Firm of Lowell J. Kuvin were named in a complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in an age discrimination lawsuit against restaurant giant Darden, the owner and operator of chain restaurant Season’s 52.
Anthony Scornavacca and Hugo Alfaro, 52 and 49 were denied employment when they applied for server positions at the Season’s 52 location in Coral Gables, Florida. “Scornavacca, who was a server at Joe’s Stone Crab for many seasons, and Alfaro, who has been in the hospitality business for more than two decades, are both highly experienced servers” said their attorney Lowell J. Kuvin, Esq. who filed their EEOC charges of discrimination. “It is beyond reason that Darden’s spokesperson Rich Jeffers said, ‘[w]e are proud of our commitment to diversity’ when both Mr. Scornavacca and Mr. Alfaro, who are both qualified were given cursory employment interviews and then denied employment based upon pre textual reasons.”
After their two year investigation, the EEOC issued a Letter of Determination which stated in part that “[t]he evidence, including statistical data, supports a finding that [Season’s 52] engaged in a pattern or practice of not hiring individuals who are over the age of forty at its Season 52 restaurants throughout the United States.” Mr. Kuvin and the EEOC both tried to conciliate Mr. Scornavacca and Alfaro’s claims, however, Darden refused to work with either party and denied any preferential hiring had occurred.
"It is getting harder and harder for hospitality workers over the age of forty to find employment." said attorney Lowell Kuvin. "Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing trend perpetuated by successful restaurant chains such as Houston's/Hillstone's and Season's 52 that front of the house employees such as server and bartenders over the age of 40 do not fit in."
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
On January 1, 2015 the Florida Minimum Wage increased from $7.93/hr. to $8.05/hr. for non-tipped employees and from $4.91/hr. to $5.03/hr. for tipped employees who earn at least $3.02/hr. in tips. The increase will benefit approximately 364,000 low wage workers in the state by adding an additional $300 per year to their $16,500 annual wages.
Florida is joined by 19 states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia — that will raise their minimum wage on New Year's Day, and New York — which will do the same Wednesday — boosting wages for a total of 3.2 million workers.
For voters in Florida it is important to know that the increase was NOT the result of legislation or laws passed by representatives in Tallahassee; it was the sheer will of the people. In 2004, by an overwhelming majority, the voters passed the Florida Minimum Wage Amendment (Art. X Sec. 24) which mandates a yearly increase in order to keep the minimum wage on track with inflation.
Monday, November 17, 2014
NEW YORK -- Dancers at a strip club are due more than $10 million in back wages and tips, a federal judge ruled Friday after the dancers sued to be paid at least a minimum wage.
And additional claims are headed for trial in the class action case, meaning there ultimately could be further awards to roughly 1,900 women who worked at Rick's Cabaret in Manhattan between 2005 and 2012.
"We are very happy with the court's ruling," said the dancers' Minneapolis-based lawyer, E. Michelle Drake.
The club's owner, Houston-based RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc., said it planned to appeal and continue "vigorously defending the allegations."
The dancers got no steady wages, instead paying a fee to the club to perform there and in return getting paid by customers. The customers put up $20 for each personal dance and fees starting at $100 for 15 minutes of entertainment in semi-private rooms.
But after paying club fees and required tips to deejays and other club workers, the dancers sometimes ended up in the red, Drake said.
"There is a real mythology of the wealthy stripper who has made piles of money," she said by phone Friday. "People see all the money that the customers give to the dancers. What they don't see is all the money going back from the entertainer to the club."
The club argued the dancers were independent contractors. Club lawyers also said any wages due to the strippers should be offset by the money they made from customers, called performance fees.
"The concept that the large sums of money earned by entertainers at Rick's Cabaret New York, for which they received IRS Form 1099s, do not offset the claimed wage obligations is a fundamentally flawed concept," RCI Hospitality Holdings said in a statement Friday.
U.S District Judge Paul Engelmayer disagreed, first ruling last year that the dancers were entitled to minimum wage. Then he found Friday that they were entitled to $10.8 million on certain claims.
"There is no charter under (state labor law) for an employer to treat a performance fee as either a 'wage' or as an offset to its statutory wage obligations," he wrote.
Local Florida labor attorney Lowell J. Kuvin, Esq. said "I have seen both sides of the argument of whether the dancers were either employees or independent contractors, there is not any simple answer. The Clubs need to be diligent in how they operate so as not to change the classification of the dancers to being employees."
Friday's ruling covered claims the judge felt could be decided based on court papers alone. The trial will address others. The dancers are seeking more than $18 million in all.