Not everyone is cut out for the restaurant industry, something actress Jessica Biel recently discovered after she decided to close down her relatively new restaurant, Au Fudge. The decision to close the West Hollywood eatery came after it was hit with a lawsuit in 2017 by disgruntled employees who accused “Biel, 36, and her business partners of stealing $430,100 in tips.”
While it’s not yet clear if Biel settled the suit out of the courtroom, one of the plaintiffs recently requested the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, “be dismissed on behalf of all parties without prejudice.” Shortly after the request, Garrett Parks, the attorney representing the defendants, “filed a declaration in support of Plaintiff’s request for dismissal” and added that the filing fees had been paid in full.
But what happened that prompted a handful of employees to file the suit in the first place? Well, according to the group of young adults who were employed back in March 2016 to work at the restaurant, they were required to work more than eight hours per day and allegedly never received “meal or rest breaks.” Additionally, they claimed “they didn’t receive overtime compensation” and were allegedly told they would receive a cut of the tips whenever they worked “private parties for companies from Amazon to Netflix.”
Instead, the employees never received all the tips and overtime pay that was owed to them, leaving some to state in the lawsuit that they were “ill-prepared to deal with the violations of their rights in the workplace.” The suit also stated:
“In truth, [Biel and her co-owners] 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 [employees] their just compensation.”
In total, the employees claimed they should have “received at least $48,449.50 from vendor tips, and claimed they did not have access to contracts that could be withholding at least $280,500 from them,” according to the suit.
In response to the lawsuit, Biel and her business partners denied the claims and their legal team said the “lawsuit was an effort to extort money from the Defendants.” Nonetheless, the eatery is closing, leaving some to wonder if the dispute was settled behind closed doors, resulting in a big enough blow to force the doors of the eatery closed. But then again, Biel revealed in January 2017 that her restaurant was struggling and wasn’t as successful as she had hoped.
Biel announced her restaurant’s closing on July 14 and July via Instagram. The first post read:
“Thank you for so many years of support. Tomorrow is our last day open at the restaurant, but more things to come from Au Fudge. As of Monday, July 16, we will be open for private events.”
The second post read:
“Today is our last day of regular business hours at Au Fudge the restaurant. We are still available for private events and @aufudgecamp is only a few blocks away! Thanks for all the support.”