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