Who’s Taking Tips from Food Service Workers at Yankee Stadium?

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Anyone who has ever attended a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston has probably seen hundreds—maybe even thousands—of people walking around the stadium wearing T-shirts emblazoned in large letters with the words “Yankees Suck.” It appears now that Red Sox fans aren’t the only folks who hold that opinion of baseball’s most valuable franchise. According to Reuters, three current and former waiters who have served food and drinks to fans sitting in the premium seats at Yankee Stadium have filed a lawsuit against Legends Hospitality—a company founded and owned by the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and Goldman Sachs.

In 2008, Bloomberg News reported that the Yankees and Cowboys had joined Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and CIC Partners in forming Legends Hospitality Management LLC, a food and retail company that would operate catering, concessions, and merchandising at the new Yankees and Cowboys stadiums. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones remarked at a news conference in New York at the time that he knew “that when the Yankees put their name on something, they feel just like the Dallas Cowboys do. He added, “There is no swinging and striking out here. It’s got to work, and consequently you are going to put every ounce of every resource you can into making it very, very successful.”

Legends Hospitality may have proved to be a successful venture for the Yankees—but the waiters who have filed suit against their employer, Legends Hospitality, claim that the concessionaire withheld tips from them that were automatically charged on food and drink orders.

Writing for The Huffington Post, Dave Jamieson provides some background information on the tale of the missing tips:

“In the more desirable seats at Yankee Stadium, an already pricey $10.50 draft beer will run you an eye-popping $12.60 thanks to an involuntary 20 percent ‘service fee’ tacked on to the original price. If the sticker shock doesn’t make that brew bitter enough, consider this: Despite what you might expect, that extra $2 and change isn’t going to the hustling server who sold it to you, according to a new lawsuit.”

According to Jamieson, Legends Hospitality allegedly pockets the automatic 20% food and drink service fee in violation of New York state law. He says that if certified as a class action, the lawsuit “could involve more than a hundred servers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims.”

The suit filed against Legends Hospitality and Volume Services America—the company that ran food services at the old stadium—claims that the food service workers did not receive any of the 20% service charges. Brian Schaffer, the lawyer representing the employees who filed the suit, said: “The workers earn $35 a day, plus 6% of sales, which amounts to about $7,000 over the course of a 6-month baseball season.” According to Schaffer, Legends takes approximately $20,000 in “service charges” from the workers in the course of a year. He noted that the workers are not allowed to tell customers where the “service charges” go. “The customer will frequently ask my clients where is the 20% charge going and they are told ‘I can’t tell you.’ It always puts my clients in an awkward position.” Schaffer thinks that Yankee fans would not be happy if they knew that the 20% food service charges were not going to the food service workers.

A spokesman for the Yankees told the Daily News that all of their employees are paid properly—“and in strict accordance with their union contract.”

The lawsuit which seeks unpaid wages and other damages, reportedly, does not specify a dollar amount.


Yankee Stadium Tips Taken By Owners, Servers Allege (Huffington Post)

Yankee Stadium concession workers sue over tips (Reuters)

Are Yankees shorting waiters on their tips? (USA Today)

Yankee Stadium food servers claim their tips are being stolen and they’re owed thousands: suit (New York Daily News)

Yankees, Cowboys, Goldman Sachs Form Stadium Company (Bloomberg)

Yankees, Cowboys, Goldman Sachs Form Concessionaire (CNBC)

12 thoughts on “Who’s Taking Tips from Food Service Workers at Yankee Stadium?”

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  3. I have a labor law suit now with the facts that the legends( Yankees are part owner) Hired people and told them of higher pay and the when the payroll company eventually kicked in weeks later it was a title and pay of the lesser. The answer “paid properly and in accordance to the contract is their scape goat,their cover of lies and lies through of omission.I am glad of this suit and I will point to it in my case.Based on their results everyone can now come to see the truth of their abuse and lies .You can contact me,I can all ways use your help.

  4. NFL lockout: In owners’ enterprise, nothing’s free
    By Sally Jenkins
    Washington Post, 5/16/2011

    Should you find yourself drifting to the side of the players in the NFL labor dispute, it doesn’t mean you’ve gone all communist. Some fans may feel that to support the players is anti-capitalist, a little too May Day. But there is the spirit of free enterprise, and then there is the spirit with which NFL owners tend to do business. They aren’t at all the same thing.

    What’s so American about gouging, price-fixing, and frankly, sucking the life out of fans?

    There is a pattern forming. In the past week — before Monday’s appeals court ruling extending the lockout — we’ve seen a new stadium proposal for the Minnesota Vikings that amounts to a bilking of taxpayers. A judge is preparing to punish owners for cheating the players in negotiated TV deals. And waiters are suing a company co-founded by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for withholding tips from $35-a-day concession workers. If you had any lingering thoughts that the owners have been misunderstood or that the lockout isn’t their fault, recent events may have cured you of any sympathy with them.

    Back in 2009, Jones and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, with backing from Goldman Sachs, formed a company called Legends Hospitality to run the food, drink and merchandise services in their new billion-dollar stadiums.

    A class action suit by club-level waiters at Yankee Stadium now claims that Legends Hospitality tacked an involuntary 20 percent “service charge” onto the already steep $10 beers and $8 hot dogs. A printed notice on menus said, “Additional gratuity is at your discretion.” But the people who actually served the food and drink never received any portion of that “service charge,” according to their lawyer; Legends Hospitality did.

    This is how owners do business?

    Ever since Jones and the NFL charged fans $200 just to stand outside the Super Bowl, there has been a growing awareness that many league owners treat the help and the paying spectators high-handedly, while at the same time digging in their pockets.

    Consider how Minnesota Vikings owner Zygmunt Wilf is treating the residents who support him. For months he has been insinuating that unless he gets enough public funding for a new stadium, he may move the team to Los Angeles.

    Under the latest proposal favored by the Vikings, Minnesotans would pony up $650 million so Wilf can have a new $1 billion palace in the Arden Hills suburb of St. Paul. Ramsey County would get hit with a $350 million tab via a sales tax increase. The state, which is facing a $5 billion budget shortfall, would contribute another $300 million. The Vikings would contribute $407 million, but would pay no rent at all, and would get all revenues from the stadium, including parking, signage and naming rights. What a deal for the public.

  5. Yankees, Cowboys and Goldman Sachs … they all suck. And this is an opinion I’ve held for all three way before I’ve read this post.

    Thanks, Elaine M, for cementing my already low opinion of them!

  6. rcampbell,

    “….owned by the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and Goldman Sachs.”

    Now there’s a trifecta of corporate names guaranteed to engender warm fuzzies.


    Did you see Matt Taibbi’s latest article about Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone?

    The People vs. Goldman Sachs
    A Senate committee has laid out the evidence. Now the Justice Department should bring criminal charges
    By Matt Taibbi

    They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

    Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

    The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — “a million fraud cases a year” is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

    To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank and selling loans that didn’t exist) was almost completely unconnected to the systematic corruption that led to the crisis. What’s more, many of the earlier criminals in the chain of corruption — from subprime lenders like Countrywide, who herded old ladies and ghetto families into bad loans, to rapacious banks like Washington Mutual, who pawned off fraudulent mortgages on investors — wound up going belly up, sunk by their own greed.

    But Goldman, as the Levin report makes clear, remains an ascendant company precisely because it used its canny perception of an upcoming disaster (one which it helped create, incidentally) as an opportunity to enrich itself, not only at the expense of clients but ultimately, through the bailouts and the collateral damage of the wrecked economy, at the expense of society. The bank seemed to count on the unwillingness or inability of federal regulators to stop them — and when called to Washington last year to explain their behavior, Goldman executives brazenly misled Congress, apparently confident that their perjury would carry no serious consequences. Thus, while much of the Levin report describes past history, the Goldman section describes an ongoing? crime — a powerful, well-connected firm, with the ear of the president and the Treasury, that appears to have conquered the entire regulatory structure and stands now on the precipice of officially getting away with one of the biggest financial crimes in history.

  7. Great story Elaine! This is another example of the corporate greed that is killing the middle class.

  8. “….owned by the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and Goldman Sachs.”

    Now there’s a trifecta of corporate names guaranteed to engender warm fuzzies.

  9. Any team that would partner with the phony “America’s Team” Cowboys deserves to get sued.

  10. Wait ’til the Yankees’ players find out who’s been stealing the change out of their lockers while they’re on the field.

    Hint: It might be the same “Legends” who, with the greatest of hospitality, charge $302.40 for a case of re-labeled Bullfrog Beer.

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