Yankee Stadium concession workers sue over tips

NEW YORK Tue May 10, 2011 4:52pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three current and former waiters who served fans in premium seats at Yankee Stadium have filed a lawsuit against their employer over the withholding of tips automatically charged on food and drink orders.

Orders placed from the high-end seats include an automatic 20 percent service charge, with additional gratuities left up to the customers, according to the lawsuit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit claims the waiters did not receive any money generated by the service charge and that by law, they should have been paid the money.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed against Legends Hospitality, a company formed by the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys to provide premium catering at Yankee Stadium. It also names Volume Services Inc, which handled concessions at the old Yankee Stadium, which closed after the 2008 season.

In 2009, the team moved into the new ballpark, where tickets for the premium seats typically cost between $100 and $325, the lawsuit said.

A spokeswoman for Legends Hospitality said the company had not been served with the suit but said all employees "are paid properly and in strict accordance with their union contract."

The servers are members of the Office & Professional Employees International Union local 153 in New York.

The servers' attorney Brian Schaffer said the issue of a service charge was not addressed in the union contract.

Volume Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit does not seek a specific amount of damages but claims the amount in dispute is more than $5 million, involving some 150 employees, Schaffer said.

Last year, servers at the U.S. Open tennis tournament filed a similar lawsuit against food service company Restaurant Associates. That suit is pending in federal court in Brooklyn.

(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Bohan)

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