Jessica Biel and her business partners at Au Fudge, the Los Angeles-based restaurant once described by Eater as a Soho House for children and described by Jezebel as visionary, is the defendant in a lawsuit alleging that she and her partners collected hundreds and thousands of dollars in tips from private events without passing said money on to the staff.
According to legal documents obtained by The Blast, the employees suing Biel and her partners claim that the restaurant makes the majority of its money by hosting private events and “buyouts.” The restaurant would add a 22 percent gratuity to each bill for any special event and the employees filing the suit are all claiming that they never saw a penny of that money.
In former Au Fudge Director of Events Alexandra Desage’s deposition, she claimed that “every private event customer” she interacted with during her time at the restaurant was under the impression that the gratuity would go directly to the people that had actually worked the event, as is customary in the restaurant industry. As is also typical in the retaurant industry, according to Desage, she has no memory of a customer tipping on top of the added “Gratuity” charge.
When Desage, who is not a plaintiff in the suit, brought this to the attention of management, she was brushed off.
Desage says she confronted co-owner Jon Rollo (chef, owner, and founder of the restaurant chain Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop) about the problem. Desage says she told Rollo she believed 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.”
Rollo, Desage claims, responded by saying, “I don’t think you understand. Don’t worry about it.”
The employees filing the suit against Biel and her partners allege that they lost $430,100 in tips from various events as well as $31,459 in “missed rest breaks.” They’re also looking for a cool $1,000,000 in damages.
We’ve reached out to Jessica Biel’s rep as well as Au Fudge and will update this post if we hear back.