Star Chef, Facing a Suit, Files for Bankruptcy
By NICK FOX
Published: April 26, 2011
The Chapter 7 petition by the celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian may help him to fend off more than $1 million in legal claims from his former kitchen staff at Country.
Many restaurants around the country are being sued in class-actions and collective actions for failing to pay overtime and other violations of federal and state wage laws. The New York Times has reported a very interesting story regarding one such lawsuit against celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. The story explains how Zakarian’s former partners have taken the unsual step of filing affidavits in favor of the class after paying a $200,000 settlement. Zakarian and his partners are involved in litigation where they allege his used the restaurant Country as his personal piggy bank and breached fiduciary duties to them. To avoid the cook staff’s class action lawsuit and the high cost of defending it Zakarian has filed for bankruptcy.
The article states:
Of the 179 creditors listed in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition he filed on April 6 in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., 152 are former cooks at Country. They are part of a class action lawsuit against Mr. Zakarian and his management firm that claims that when he was an owner of the restaurant and its chef, he failed to pay the workers time and a half for overtime, falsified pay records to shortchange them and deducted from their paychecks for staff meals they were not given. They are seeking $1 million in damages and $250,000 in penalties.
Neither legal action has been widely reported in the news media, nor has the bitterness between Mr. Zakarian and two former partners that has led those two men to take the workers’ side and face off in court against him.
The article goes on to provide many more interesting facts regarding Zakarian’s alleged mistreatment of his employees and partners. You can read the full article by clicking here where you can also conenct to links to the Complaint and various affidavits filed in the lawsuit. The affidavit by one former line cook describes how the workers were forced to work many unpaid hours. You can view it by clicking here.
DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle has a team of attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and who have successfully handled many large wage and hour disputes. Our Joliet overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Our Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys are dedicated to getting you your unpaid wages and giving you efficient and dynamic representation. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago wage and hour lawyers by phone at 1 (877) 990-4990, or through our online form.