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Celebrity Chef Sued in $1M Class Action Wage and Hour Suit--Files Bankruptcy

May 13, 2011

High-profile celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, known for his successful three star restaurants, and television programs on the Food Network, has filed for personal bankruptcy, according to a news article that our Newport Beach, California employment attorneys have been following, to help fight off over $1 million in wage and hour claims from the employees of Country in the Carlton Hotel restaurant, which closed almost three years ago.

According to the New York Times, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition that Zarakian filed last month listed 179 creditors--152 of which are former cooks at the Connecticut restaurant who have formed a class action wage and hour lawsuit against Zarakian and his management team. The class of former employees claim that when Zarakian was chef and owner of the restaurant, he engaged in wage theft, by failing to compensate workers according to overtime laws, falsifying pay records to shortchange the workers and subtracting money from paychecks for staff meals that were not given to the employees.

The lawsuit reportedly has led to a bitter fight between Zakarian and his two former partners, leading the two men to side with the workers in the wage and hour lawsuit. Adam Block, a former partner is the restaurant, has reportedly filed an affidavit supporting the employees, and other former partner Moshe Lax, has stated in another lawsuit that Zakarian violated labor and employment laws.

The workers claim in their lawsuit that they were consistently underpaid and experienced a number of wage and hour violations. The suit claims that when one worker asked when he would receive his overtime compensation, Zakarian responded by ordering him to go and "peel some asparagus." The class action wage and hour lawsuit seeks $1 million in monetary damages and $250,000 in penalties.

In cities throughout Orange County, California contact our attorneys at Howard Law, PC today.

Star Chef, Facing a Suit, Files for Bankruptcy, The New York Times, April 26, 2011

Related Web Resources:

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Related Blog Posts:

Exotic Dancers Could Get $10M in California Class Action Employment Misclassification Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, April 27, 2011

Chef Accused of Fraud by Tricking Culinary Students into Working for Free, California Employment Lawyers Blog, April 26, 2011