Per Se, one of New York’s most renowned and expensive restaurants, settled with the New York Attorney General to the tune of $500,000. That’s to make up for the tips Per Se didn’t hand over to its waitstaff during 2011 and 2012. The NY AG found that Per Se kept money that was meant as gratuities for the waitstaff — mainly in the restaurant’s booming banquet business.
Per Se charged customers a 20% service charge, but didn’t distribute that money — as the customer might easily have assumed — to the actual servers. Funny thing is, Per Se still charges the 20% extra and still doesn’t give it to the waitstaff. Per Se just calls it an operational charge now, instead of a service charge — which makes it legal. New York AG Eric Schneiderman said the settlement, “reaffirms the right of satisfied restaurant-goers not to be misled about whether a ‘service charge’ is actually paid to workers as a tip, which the law requires.” If Per Se had changed that one word earlier, they’d have saved half a million bucks.