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'MasterChef' Graham Elliot

FIRES Back at Lawsuit ...

I'm Allowed to Take Your Tips!

4/21/2012 1:18 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

"MasterChef" Graham Elliot is FED UP with the lawsuit recently filed against him and insists everything he did in his Chicago restaurant was legally within his rights ... this according to new docs.

If you recall ... the culinary God is being sued by former Graham Elliot Restaurant employee Gregory Curtis, who alleges that Elliot was skimming tips from waiters and giving it to the kitchen staff ... which Curtis claims would be a violation of federal law.

But in a response filed earlier this month, Elliot claims the suit is BS. While he does admit he DID take tip money and pool it for other staff members -- bartenders, bussers, and food runners -- he is adamant ... under federal labor laws, it was totally legit. 

Elliot now wants the judge to throw out the suit completely and force Curtis to cover his legal fees as well.

If only there was a tip pool for that.


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Well, is it illegal or not, Harvey? You're a lawyer. Tell us.

912 days ago


Don't most restaurants divide the tips amongst the staff?

912 days ago

lost grrl    

As far as I know it is perfectly legal to have a pooled tip system, unless Illinois law says otherwise...I know plenty of other states have no issues with it. The waitresses are *supposed* to kick some of their tips down to bus boys (It's not law, just etiquette) but many don't.

912 days ago


Hey fatboy, when I leave a tip, I ALONE get to decide to whom I give my money. I gave it to the waitress. That makes it hers/his, and hers alone.
If SHE/HE wants to tip her busboys or dishwashers, that is up to them.

912 days ago


It depends how much he is paying those other employees? Are they making minimum wages or above what he is doing is Ilegal if those employees depend on tips to earn min wages it is legal.

912 days ago

Fat Mike    

Waiters seem to think they do all the work and the place wouldn't survive without them. The kitchen staff should be getting a portion of the tips too, considering it's their food the customer is being served. If I was in a kitchen and had a greedy waiter that wouldn't share, I wouldn't be putting in much effort to keep their tables happy.

912 days ago


How much money was he taking from them? When I was a waitress it was common for the wait staff to give the host & bussers money at the end of the night. They never get tipped, make lousy wages, and work just as hard.

912 days ago


All staff should be paid a fair and decent wage so tipping would not be a necessity but an option. I hate tipping but understand it is necessary for the staff.

They say tipping is voluntary but it really isn't. Pay people fairly for their hard work and this will not be an issue.

912 days ago


Does this mean you have to tip the fast food worker that takes your order and gives you your tray of food or bag at the drive through window?

912 days ago


I worked at Wishbone on Washington in Chicago, and they did this too... so I think he's right that it's legal.

912 days ago


Contrary to restaraunt owner it is not the responsibilty of the servers to pay all your employees salaries.

912 days ago


I find the whole "tip" thing a form of petty extortion.

912 days ago


wow that guy suing him is a greedy a-hole, when I was a ****tail server and waitress we would always pool our money together and share with the cook, busboys, and bartender because it was the thoughtful thing to do, I hope that curtis guy looses his pants off.

912 days ago


My boyfriend was a server and I was kitchen staff at the Glen Burnie, MD Outback Steakhouse. Multiple while we were employed there the proprietor would bring the in the serving staff and force them to work for only tips and called them charity events. All of the tips were collected to pay for the food used, pay back house help and for whatever else he felt it need to go to, then they would be lucky if they made 20 dollars for working a "volunteer" 4 hour shift. If you didn't show for charity events you were canned. Screw these fat belly bastards that run multimillion dollar businesses and still feel the need to steal from there help.

912 days ago


In most places the wait staff tips out

912 days ago
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