Employees of actress and restaurateur Jessica Biel are speaking out about their lawsuit against her and the co-owners of her West Hollywood restaurant Au Fudge.
After news broke of their explosive suit charging Biel and the others of fraud and civil theft in legal docs, the employees have revealed shocking details about allegedly being underpaid and overworked.
"Working for Jessica Biel was obviously a dream and who wouldn't trust Jessica Biel? And so everything that just went on was really frustrating," plaintiff Jacqueline Dessage said.
The A list couple share a lavish lifestyle that includes a New York City penthouse. Biel decided to invest her acting money in a restaurant. She admitted earlier this year that Au Fudge wasn't making money yet.
Biel has said she created the restaurant for moms and families who want to go have a safe, delicious, thoughtfully-sourced meal.
But as abc7.com reported, her former employees have now spoken publicly about their complaints.
The four former employees said they were promised $12 an hour plus tips. The lawsuit claims the restaurant owners kept almost $500,000 in gratuity meant for the wait staff.
Plaintiff Conor Gleason told abc7, "For an entire 18 months, we were all working tirelessly and taking home a salary that was frankly ridiculous based on the work that we were doing. We were able to take the contracts from the buy outs and go over the numbers and we did find great discrepancies between what was supposed to go to the staff and what we actually got."
According to court docs, the restaurant workers claim they toiled at private parties, such as an Amazon event in May, in which gratuities added up to almost $15,000. But the ex- employees said they didn't see a dime of that tip for Au Fudge.
They also assert that they weren't given required breaks or lunches, and often worked overtime without proper compensation.
Jack Stagg, who is one of the people suing, noted that workers banded together against Biel and other owners: "I think the more we discussed it, the more we realized this is a bigger problem. Like I've had people come up to me and say this has happened at other restaurants."
A lawyer representing Au Fudge said in a statement, "The company does not comment on pending litigation, and looks forward to defending itself in court."
The four former employees said they didn't want to take legal action, but felt forced to do so after several meetings with the owners.
"We gave them time, we gave them months, they all knew. They decided not to rectify the situation," Stagg shrugged.
The former Au Fudge staffers seek almost $500,000 for the lost wages and punitive damages of $1 million.
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