Jessica Biel and her business partners at the Los Angeles, kid-friendly restaurant, Au Fudge, are in hot water for allegedly keeping more than $430,000 in gratuities from their employees and denying them meal and rest breaks.
According to court documents obtained by E! News, nine former employees are suing after the restaurant owners, including stylist Estee Stanley, Joey Gonzalez, Kimberly Muller, and Jonathan Rollo in addition to Biel, “wrongfully converted” the 22% gratuity charged at private events and buyouts, where clients pay to rent the entire restaurant.
“Each of them had their gratuities wrongfully converted and were improperly denied meal and rest breaks, overtime compensation and earned wages under various illegal payroll practices,” the plaintiffs allege, according to E!. “Defendants charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in gratuities to private-party customers and converted said gratuities to themselves in order to pad their own pockets and deprive plaintiffs their just compensation in violation of law.”
The employees are seeking $430,100 in gratuities from the events and $31,549 in missed rest breaks plus $1,000,000 in punitive damages. The sum of gratuities was largely due to industry events at the restaurant for companies like Netflix and Amazon. A Netflix event in July 2016 with a bill of $80,220.19 included $13,271.50 in tips that the plaintiffs never received, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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Though not a plaintiff in the case, the former director of events, Alexandra Desage, allegedly confronted Rollo about the missing tips. She says in a deposition that he told her “don’t worry about it” and felt he was “blowing me off.”
A representative for Au Fudge could not immediately be reached for comment by PEOPLE.
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Biel and her partners opened the eatery with all-natural rainbow dishes, craft cocktails and an au pair on site in March 2016 as a way for kids and adults to enjoy dining out. In January, the actress revealed that getting into the restaurant business was more challenging than she expected.
“[We’re] definitely not making money,” she said. “Nobody’s making money in the restaurant business, in my experience, at least not yet.”
The Blast was the first to report the lawsuit.