Nusret Gokce, or ‘Salt Bae’, paid four former employees at his New York restaurant a $230,000 settlement
Instagram famous chef ‘Salt Bae’ has paid a $230,000 settlement to four waiters who accused him of firing them from his Manhattan steakhouse for asking questions about tips.
‘Salt Bae’, whose real name is Nusret Gokce, agreed to the settlement the day before a trial with the National Labor Relations Board arbiter was set.
The beef began when four former employees of Nusr-Et Steakhouse New York filed complaints against the Turkish chef in January.
Onur Usluca, 27, Yunus Delimehmet, 36, Suleyman Kucur, 51, and Batuhan M. Yunkus, 30, said they faced wrongful termination.
The men allege that they were dismissed after they began to question how the tip pool was divided.
New York Daily News reports that the men involved claim that management never told them how much was collected in tips.
It is common for restaurants to provide a documents showing how tips are distributed, but it was withheld from staff.
Nusr-Et management deemed that information ‘confidential.’
Four former employees at Nusr-Et Steakhouse New York (pictured) claim Gokce fired them for questioning how their tips were divided
Instead, servers would receive a check between $2,000 to $2,500 a week with gratuities already included.
On a busy night, the Nusr-Et Steakhouse New York reportedly rakes in around $130,000.
One of the aggrieved ex-servers, Yunkus, blasted his former employer for not following industry regulations.
Pictured: Batuhan M. Yunkus (left), 30, and Yunus Delimehmet (right), 36, are two of the waiters who filed complaints against Gokce
Pictured: Onur Usluca (left), 27, and Suleyman Kucur (right), 51, are the other two servers who claim they were wrongfully fired
He said: ‘Salt Bae should adhere and learn to respect labor laws and regulations. You simply cannot do whatever you like, regardless of your fame or economic status.’
‘We are glad we live in a jurisdiction where worker rights are protected and preserved. This wasn’t about money, this was about making a point and fighting for all the workers’ rights in USA.’
At the time, attorney Lou Pechman suggested the steakhouse was hiding something by not disclosing the tip amounts.
‘We believe these four workers were terminated because they exercised their legal right to complain about the tip pool at Nusr-Et,’ Pechman said.
‘It is standard practice for restaurants to disclose tip-out sheets to its servers. Those restaurants who do not disclose the tip allocation generally have something to hide.’
The former employees said Gokce (pictured) was ‘dictatorial’ and could be ‘humiliating’ at times
Throughout the ordeal, the waiters have also said Gokce was ‘dictatorial.’
Yunkus said: ‘He’s trying to cover up his authoritarian, dictatorial attitude. He doesn’t care about local laws.’
Kucur said Gokce was influenced by the movie Scarface and didn’t tolerate any questions about tips.
He said: ‘He was so influenced by the movie. He thinks he is like Tony Montana. He said to me, “What’s the name on the restaurant? Nusr-Et. What’s my name? Nusret. What I say, goes”.’
‘Salt Bae’ (pictured) became famous after a video of him sprinkling salt on a piece of meat went viral on Twitter
Usluca claims that that Gokce can be ‘humiliating’ and recalled one time when the chef asked what he studied in college, which was business.
‘F*** your business degree,’ Gokce allegedly said.
In response to these allegations, Gokce’s attorney said the steakhouse’s work environment is one that founded on equal treatment.
Christy Reuter said: ‘The restaurants are equally committed to his vision, while ensuring that all team members are provided with the necessary tools to be successful, and that they are treated fairly and paid well.’
‘A number of tipped employee members of the team earn in excess of $100,000 annually, and management applauds their achievements. Any allegations of unfair labor practices by Nusret or management are categorically denied.’
The money covers expenses from the point of the former employees’ termination to the date of the settlement.
Claims regarding wage violations are still pending.
Pechman said: ‘The NLRB protects workers not only in unions but ones who aren’t in unions. This was a tremendous victory for our clients and sends a loud message that retaliation is prohibited under the law.’
The persona of ‘Salt Bae’ first rose to international attention after a video showed his peculiar way of sprinkling salt on his meats.
The video went viral and helped vitalize Gokce’s career as a celebrity chef and restaurant owner.
His Instagram account, which has more than 23 million followers, show him with global celebrities like Neymar, DJ Khaled, Roger Federer and Bruce Willis.
His chain of steakhouses can be found in Dubai, Miami, New York, his native country Turkey and other locations.