Recent Case Developments

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Recent Case Developments

Tax Evasion

Two members of the Cipriani family, renowned for their string of opulent restaurants in New York and Venice, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and agreed to pay $10 million in restitution and penalties to resolve a case brought by Robert M. Morgenthau, the district attorney of Manhattan. Arrigo Cipriani, the family patriarch, pleaded guilty to a felony tax charge while Giuseppe Cipriani, his son and the chief executive of Cipriani U.S.A. Inc., pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Guilty pleas were entered as well for three corporate units of Cipriani U.S.A. on tax felony charges. In addition to paying penalties and restitution in the amount of $10,000,000.00, an independent monitor will be installed through 2011 to ensure that the companies pay appropriate taxes. The companies will also likely face a federal tax liability arising from the case, but how much is unclear at this point.

Employment of Illegal Aliens

Bad news for a network of New York nightclubs as the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service recently announced that it had fined the clubs $52,540.00 for knowingly hiring and continuing to employ two illegal aliens. The Main Tower Nightclub, Inc., has already filed for liquidation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, along with the company owning its sister restaurant, Kelly’s Sports City Grill.

Food Poisoning

The family of a toddler who developed kidney problems after his parents ate contaminated hamburgers at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant has reached a $4.4 Million settlement with the restaurant’s parent company.  Several hundred people who became ill from an out-break of E. Coli bacteria linked to contaminated and undercooked hamburgers at Jack-in-the-Box restaurants. Three children in Washington State died in the out-break.

Sexual Harassment

Hooters of America Inc., the restaurant chain that requires waitresses to wear skimpy clothing, was recently sued for sexual harassment by a former waitress. Annette Phillips is seeking class action status on behalf of more than 1.000 female non-management Hooters workers she says suffer from harassment. Phillips’ suit claims a relative of a Hooters manager slapped her on the buttocks and physically threatened her. She says that when she complained to a manager who saw the episode, he told her to ignore it. She also claimed that some male managers had exposed themselves to female workers. She is not, however, challenging the Hooters policy that requires waitresses to wear shorts and tight T-shirts.

National Origin Discrimination

The Plaza Hotel paid $525,000.00 to settle a lawsuit accusing the hotel of subjecting Muslim, Arab, and South Asian workers to a hostile work environment following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The lawsuit, filed by attorney Mark B. Stumer against the Plaza Hotel and Fairmont Hotel and Resorts, Inc., alleged that employees at the hotel were called offensive and derogatory names related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks based on their Muslim religion and/or their Arab and South Asian national origins. The workers were called “terrorist,” “Osama,” “Taliban,” and “Dumb Muslim.” In settling the lawsuit, the company also agreed to implement improved procedures to train managers and employees at 14 hotels nationwide.

National Origin Discrimination

Seven former workers at Daniel, the upscale Manhattan restaurant, filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court saying they were denied promotions to higher-paying and more visible positions. The lawsuit, which also named Daniel´s owner, Daniel Boulud, claims that the restaurant discriminated against the workers, immigrants from Latin America and Bangladesh, because of their ethnicity, race and national origin. The lawsuit was recently settled for an undisclosed amount.

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