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Post date: June 24 2003

Well-known Astoria Restaurant Settles Charges Of Labor Violations

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with a popular Astoria seafood restaurant to resolve charges of labor law violations. Under the settlement, Elias Corner Restaurant for Fish and Elias Sidiroglou, the restaurant's owner, will pay nearly $460,000 in restitution and interest to current and former wait staff.

Spitzer's office initiated an investigation in late 2001, when several former waiters and waitresses of Elias Corner complained that their only payment for work was based on gratuities from customers. The AG's investigation revealed that prior to July 2002, the restaurant's waiters and waitresses, in fact, were compensated for their work only by tips, which is a violation of state and federal minimum wage and overtime provisions. New York State's Labor Law requires that all waiters and waitresses, even those receiving a substantial amount of tips, must be paid the food service worker minimum wage of $3.30 per hour.

"Restaurants must not be allowed to circumvent the laws by shifting their labor costs to their customers," Spitzer said. "The law requires an employer to pay workers a minimum wage regardless of the amount of tips received. My office will continue to vigorously enforce the labor laws in all industries, including the restaurant industry."

In addition to compensating former employees, the settlement with Elias Corner requires the restaurant to pay the minimum wage and overtime wages to all current and future employees of Elias Corner, and to provide all current and future employees of Elias Corner with wage statements.

The investigation was handled by Assistant Attorney General Devin A. Rice of the AG's Labor Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Jennifer S. Brand, and Investigator Ed Elie of the AG's Investigations Bureau.