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Former Employee Sues Restaurant, Alleges Skimming of Tips

A waiter who worked at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown has filed two lawsuits – one against Philadelphia Magazine and another against his former employer alleging he was wrongfully terminated due to sexual harassment claims levied against the restaurant by the magazine and also accused the restaurant of skimming tips from workers.

Michael Cona worked at the restaurant from the time it opened in 2016 until March of 2018.

According to Con’s defamation lawsuit, the food editor from Philadelphia Magazine, Alex Tewfik, met with the owners of the restaurant in February 2018 to discuss sexual harassment allegations made by former female employees. The women claimed to have been harassed by the restaurant’s former executive chef, Chris Painter, as well as the general manager Michael Jreidini, as well as two additional staff members who were not named.

Cona was suspended March 1, 2018 and fired two weeks later. The suspension came just one day after Tewfik’s article was posted on the Philadelphia Magazine website, despite Cona claiming to not have spoken of the harassment to Tewfik.

The lawsuit claims that previous interactions between Tewfik and Painter had been contentious when they’d worked together and that the harassment claims grew out of Tewfik’s “axe to grind.” The lawsuit alleges defamation, conspiracy, commercial disparagement, and invasion of privacy.

Cona says he was never contacted about the harassment allegations prior to the article being published and hadn’t been questioned about any wrongdoing. Cook and Grasso issued a statement that Cona was suspended after they were notified of the allegations by Philadelphia Magazine. The lawsuit claims this was an attempt to protect themselves and throw Cona under the bus.

According to the lawsuit, Cona was unable to find work for at least three months after the firing, despite not being named in the article.

In response to the lawsuit, Tom McGrath, editor of Philadelphia Magazine, stated, “The plaintiff, who was let go by the restaurant, was not named in any of our articles. Yet he now claims the magazine should pay him no less than $1 million as a result of being out of work for three months. We’re confident that all claims against the magazine will be swiftly dismissed.”

Management Accused of Tip Skimming

Cona simultaneously filed a different lawsuit that names Grasso, Cook, Method Hospitality, and Jredini, and accuses them of skimming tips.

According to Cona, management at the restaurant violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Philadelphia’s Gratuity Protection Law by forcing employees to give a portion of their tips to other staffers, including bussers, runners, and polishers.

The suit alleges tips were put into a pool and distributed to the staff, but that some of the money “went straight into the pockets” of management. Cona claims servers ended up with less than 50 percent of their tips.

Law Firm Experienced in Helping Employees Fight Back Against Employer Harassment

If you have been affected by your employer’s actions regarding your wages or tips, or you’ve been accused of doing something you did not do, we can help. Even if you did speak out against the wrongdoing by your employer, you are legally protected.

For more information or to discuss your case, contact Heavens Law at 888.897.5377 to schedule a free consultation.