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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
EXCLUSIVE

0421_graham-elliot_getty
"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.

69 COMMENTS

No Avatar
1.

Abe    

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

861 days ago
2.

Brooke    

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

861 days ago
3.

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.

861 days ago
4.

Anonymous    

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.

860 days ago
5.

Jordan    

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.

860 days ago
6.

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.

860 days ago
7.

Jac    

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.

860 days ago
8.

KicksandGiggles    

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.

860 days ago
9.

Jordan    

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?

860 days ago
10.

Lisa    

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

860 days ago
11.

Jordan    

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

860 days ago
12.

KnuckleDragger    

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

860 days ago
13.

w    

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.

860 days ago
14.

Erin    

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.

860 days ago
15.

Areader    

In most places the wait staff tips out

860 days ago
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