New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who made a national reputation as
a crusader by taking on greedy mutual fund firms and lying Wall Street bankers,
is now riding to the rescue of New York City's unpaid restaurant bathroom attendants.
An investigation conducted by his office showed that attendants in the city's
upscale restaurants were not receiving any wages; in fact, they were paying
for the privilege of mining tips in bathrooms in exchange for providing toiletries
and a hand towel.
Spitzer announced this week that he was filing a $4 million lawsuit against
Royal Flush, the city's main placement service for bathroom attendants. According
to the suit, Royal Flush required workers to pay a "lease fee" proportional
to the tips collected during each shift, in which attendants hover near bathroom
sinks to assist patrons and provide dispensers of after-shave lotion, cologne,
mouthwash and other supplies.
"The idea of people working without wages and having to pay a fee to stand
in a bathroom and wait for tips is unconscionable," Spitzer said. "The
arrangement violated state labor law, and deprived people of the dignity of
the minimum wage."
Already, he has secured a settlement with the owners of Tavern on the Green
restaurant. They agreed to hire 14 workers on a full-time basis and pay up to
$175,000 to compensate attendants for minimum wage underpayments for the past
Reuters, via Yahoo!