According to The Blast, nine former employees at Jessica Biel’s West Hollywood restaurant Au Fudge have filed a wage theft lawsuit in the amount of over $430,000. The article outlines how Au Fudge management allegedly included 22% gratuity in all private event bills and then withheld those gratuities from its waitstaff.
According to the deposition filed by Alexandra Desage, a former Director of Events at Au Fudge, “every private event customer” had the understanding that gratuities from invoices would be distributed to the waitstaff that participated in the event.
Restaurants thrive on private events, and waitstaff rely on the tips they receive from working them. According to this lawsuit, the restaurant never gave the charged 22% gratuity directly to waitstaff. As a result, the staff are seeking $430,100 in lost wages in addition to $31,549 in missed rest breaks and $1,000,000 in punitive damages.
Desage allegedly confronted Au Fudge’s co-owner Jon Rollo (who is also chef, owner, and founder of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop) about the problem. She states in the suit that it was, “against the law for Au Fudge’s customers to pay a gratuity and then have the restaurant fail to transfer the gratuity to employees who had direct contact with the customers.” Desage states that Rollo brushed her off by saying, “I don’t think you understand. Don’t worry about it.”
Biel and Rollo are named as defendants, along with interior designer, Estee Stanley; co-chairman of Terrace Tower, Monica Saunders-Weinberg; Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp; and Kim Muller, author of the “Au Fudge” children’s book.
First opened back in mid-2016, Au Fudge is a pricey restaurant in West Hollywood aimed largely at well-heeled families and their children.