Chef, restaurateur, and Top Chef season six competitor Bryan Voltaggio is in a bit of hot water again, but this time it's not in the kitchen. Late yesterday, a Baltimore-area law office filed a suit against Voltaggio alleging that two former cooks were not paid for all of the hours they worked. The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore (Case Number 1:15-cv-02563-ELH).
Voltaggio and his Market Street Management, LLC and Volt II LLC were sued for "violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The complaint alleges that the defendants — two former cooks — were required by Voltaggio and his business' operators to work "off-the-clock." The cooks say they were sometimes required to begin work "as early as three hours prior to the beginning of their scheduled shifts," and were also required to stay late after their scheduled shifts had ended, but were not allowed to "clock in" when they arrived, and sometimes "clocked out... two to six hours" before they actually finished work.
The defendants allege that because of the discrepancies between the hours actually worked and the hours recorded on time sheets, they were not paid minimum wage for each hour worked. It is unclear from on the law office's press release if the former employees were paid on a salary or hourly basis. Employees who are paid a salary are often exempt from overtime pay.
Eater reached out to Bryan Voltaggio who responded via email, "We are looking into the accusations, however we know they are incorrect." Voltaggio's most recent brush with the law happened last September when he was arrested for a DUI. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.
Wage discrepancy lawsuits are common, though federal and state laws vary widely. The most famous case in recent years was the lawsuit filed in 2010 by former employees of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's New York City restaurants. That suit alleged that management "did not pay minimum wage or overtime and shared tips among non-tipped employees at Babbo." Two years later, Batali and Bastianich basically admitted guilt and settled the class action suit for a whopping $5.25 million.