Boston banquet workers sue Aramark

BOSTON Banquet workers employed by Aramark Corp. at two Boston convention centers have filed a wage-and-hour lawsuit against the contract foodservice company, alleging violations of Massachusetts’ tipping law.

Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan filed the suit Wednesday in Suffolk County Superior Court here on behalf of Maureen Ennis, Patricia Devin, Patricia Schulze and Luis Leon, whom Aramark employed at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The lawsuit alleges that Aramark violated the tipping law by adding a 20-percent service charge to customers’ bills and not giving the gratuities to waitstaff at the venues. The plaintiffs are asking for restitution for the unpaid gratuities, damages and legal fees.

Liss-Riordan said she was seeking class-action status for the suit.

Aramark spokeswoman Kristine Grow said the company would not comment on the pending litigation.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, which owns and operates the two venues, decided to end its contracts with Aramark because of a labor dispute and dissatisfaction with the foodservice program, according to local reports. However, Aramark spokeswoman Grow said the on-site feeder continues to provide foodservice for the venues and said discussions to renew the contract are ongoing.

Liss-Riordan’s law firm, Pyle Rome Lichten Ehrenberg & Liss-Riordan, is handling a similar wage violation suit against Aramark on behalf of the company's workers at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. The lawsuit charges the contact feeder with improperly withholding gratuities intended for waitstaff. The suit, which was filed earlier this year in Suffolk County Superior Court, has since been moved to federal court, an aide to Liss-Riordan said.