Today’s news:

Astoria eatery served lawsuit by employees

Former employees of Trattoria L'incontro in Astoria are alleging the Italian restaurant did not pay them fairly and the management skimmed their tips, charges the owner denies. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

Eight former employees of Astoria’s celebrated Trattoria L’Incontro are suing the restaurant and its owners in Brooklyn federal court, claiming they were not paid proper wages and that their managers skimmed their tips.

Rocco Sacramone, owner and chef of L’Incontro, said he had not seen the lawsuit but denied the charges when asked about them.

“They get paid whatever they’re supposed to be paid, and they get tips,” Sacramone said of his waitstaff.

L’Incontro is an Italian restaurant at 21-76 31st St. in Astoria. The restaurant, which opened in 1999, has received numerous accolades. Zagat 2012 named it the best restaurant in Queens and put it on its lists for best food, best Italian food and best service in the city.

The suit was filed by eight former employees, most of whom are from Queens and all of whom worked as either waiters or busboys, on behalf of themselves and all other waitstaff who have been employed at L’Incontro in the past six years.

The main plaintiffs include Jorge Carmona of Manhattan, Felix Fernandez of Sunnyside, Nail Husic of Staten Island, Marco Matic of Long Island City, Imre Nemeth of Maspeth, Juan Pesantez of Jackson Heights, and Josko Radnic and Luis Uruchima, both of whom are from unspecified neighborhoods in Queens. The suit is filed against L’Incontro, Sacramone and co-owner Jack Brucculeri.

In papers filed in Brooklyn federal court by Manhattan attorney Louis Pechman, the employees allege that L’Incontro did not pay its waitstaff statutory minimum wage or overtime, with employees getting $10 per shift. Pechman contends Carmona often receives only $20 for two shifts, a workday greater than 12 hours.

While the waiters and busboys also receive tips, the suit also claims their tips are put into a pool that is divided among all staff, with busboys getting half of what waiters get. From this pool, the managers receive 10 percent of the day’s tips, court papers said.

Minimum wage in New York is $7.25 per hour, but food service workers are supposed to receive a wage of at least $5 per hour provided their total of tips allows them to earn a rate of $7.25 per hour or greater with the wage, according to the state Department of Labor’s website.

Sacramone said tips are divided among the waitstaff and denied that any money is skimmed.

“The managers don’t take anything,” he said.

Pechman alleges in the lawsuit that the waitstaff and busboys are also not reimbursed for maintaining the uniforms they are required to wear.

Sacramone said he found the claim “kind of laughable.”

“You can’t afford to go to the dry cleaner for $3 a week?” he asked.

Sacramone said no similar lawsuit has ever been filed against the restaurant in the past.

Pechman, who runs the site waiterpay.com, won the largest settlement from a single restaurant, getting $3.15 million from Manhattan’s Sparks Steak House, the New York Post reported.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Ghana from queens says:
Sacramone is scum!
Nov. 1, 2011, 8:34 pm
LMK from Queens says:
He is lying and guess what? $3.00 IS a lot of money for some people. Not everyone can afford those luxuries, which may be why they are working like dogs for you!

“You can’t afford to go to the dry cleaner for $3 a week?” Does that comment not make you wonder what it's like to work for him?
Nov. 1, 2011, 8:41 pm
Tim says:
"He is lying and guess what? $3.00 IS a lot of money for some people. Not everyone can afford those luxuries, which may be why they are working like dogs for you! "
While $3.00 MAY be a lot of money for some people, waiters at upscale restaurants where dinner for 4 runs $600 and the tip is over $100... Don't kid yourself these waiters are making $300 to $400 a NIGHT. Clearly these waiters feel they have been wronged and are a vendetta.
Nov. 4, 2011, 6:05 am
Elsie from Astoria says:
I frequent this restaurant and from DAY ONE I felt that Rocco was rude to his customers unless you were willing to kiss his a** and tell him how handsome he was and how great his place was. He constantly berated his wait staff and bus boys in front of everyone simply to prove he was the BOSS. The best part of the place is his wait staff, especially the former ones, and the bus boys. They have always been courteous and make customers feel welcome. I believe this lawsuit is 100% true.
Nov. 5, 2011, 11:55 am
Ralph from Bensonhurst says:
I applaud the wait staff and bus boys for having the shoes to bring this lawsuit. I hope they are successful and get every penny they deserve. You can tell the kind of person this Rocco guy is just by his statements What you can't afford the dry cleaner for $3 a week, and saying this claim is kinda laughable. Nice to have money isn't it so you can insult and look down upon those that are not as FORTUNATE as yourself. Remember Rocco you're gonna meet the same people on the way down as you met on the way up!!!!!
Nov. 5, 2011, 12:05 pm
Angela from Long Island says:
I used to enjoy going to this restaurant because of the great specials, and always found his wait staff and bus boys knowledgeable and friendly, the Italian food, not so much. Never cared for Rocco's attitude and his yelling at his workers. Can't figure how Zagat rates this place so high. Will be kinda uncomfortable going there now not knowing if the staff is getting their fair share. Seems like he is not taking this matter seriously from his comments above. Rooting for the plaintiffs in this case. Will let my friends know about this.
Nov. 5, 2011, 12:29 pm
Ed from Bklyn says:
In response to Tim's comments about the wait staff making $300 - $400 per night, it doesn't matter how much they make, it's ILLEGAL to take any % of there $$$ off the top. Rocco is greedy and deserves his punishment.
Nov. 5, 2011, 2:04 pm
Melissa from Queens says:
I don't know which dry cleaners Rocco goes to, but it costs a lot more than 3 bucks to to dry clean a suit jacket, pants, vest and shirt. Get your facts straight before berating others.

As a customer, I have seen Rocco demean his employees in front of others and every other word out of his mouth is f***. It is uncomfortable. I have seen that manager that runs around like a chicken with his head cut off do the same. It seems Rocco's employees work in fear of him.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if he does skim 10% percent off the top, which is ILLEGAL regardless of how much money those boys make. Working in restaurants is not easy.

Good for them for taking a stand! I support these waiters 100%
Nov. 5, 2011, 8:25 pm
Christina from syosset says:
If what Tim is saying is true, just imagine how much Rocco is pocketing. I stopped going to that place when I saw him and the little guy yell at a waiter because I accidentally got the wrong dish, wasn't a big deal. I feel bad for the staff if they can't make one tiny mistake. Rocco came to the table and apologized for the "f##*ing waiter". Really? He doesn't have much class. And the little guy really walks around frantic! Good for the guys!!
Nov. 5, 2011, 10:49 pm
Christina from syosset says:
If what Tim is saying is true, just imagine how much Rocco is pocketing. I stopped going to that place when I saw him and the little guy yell at a waiter because I accidentally got the wrong dish, wasn't a big deal. I feel bad for the staff if they can't make one tiny mistake. Rocco came to the table and apologized for the "f##*ing waiter". Really? He doesn't have much class. And the little guy really walks around frantic! Good for the guys!!
Nov. 5, 2011, 10:49 pm
Debra from Astoria says:
Melissa and Christina: I agree with your comments 100%. And to everyone else, Rocco has a FOUL and DISGUSTING mouth, not only with his employees who he treats like "slaves" barking orders through his "secret service" lapel microphone into the required ear pieces of all the waiters, not to mention the closed circuit cameras in every nook and cranny of the restaurant, but he uses the same language when talking to his "buddies" that come in and does not care who hears him. The "F" word comes out of his mouth more than any other word, and he speaks about women with such disrespect that I stopped going there a few months ago. The little guy, is the manager and has followed in Rocco's footsteps, his name is Vinnie. It is not worth it to go to this restaurant and have to be exposed to these things. I would rather spend my money somewhere else. If I had to take sides I would say this law suit is correct and I hope the plaintiffs prevail.
Nov. 6, 2011, 11:34 am
Tim says:
My previous comments were only about the $3.00 dry cleaning comment. I agree the tips belong to the waiters and staff, not management. Have not eaten here, so cannot comment on food or service.
Nov. 6, 2011, 2:29 pm
Rich says:
As it happens New York State has a law governing uniform maintenance payments. Here it is and you can all be the judge of who is right:

146-1.7. Uniform maintenance pay. (a) Where an employer does not maintain required uniforms for any employee, the employer shall pay the employee, in addition to the employee’s agreed rate of pay, uniform maintenance pay of:
$9.00 per week for work weeks over 30 hours; $7.10 per week for work weeks of more than 20
but not more than 30 hours; and
$4.30 per week for work weeks of 20 hours or less. Maintaining required uniforms includes washing, ironing, dry cleaning, alterations, repair, or any other maintenance necessary.

(b) Wash and wear exception to uniform maintenance pay.
An employer will not be required to pay the uniform maintenance pay, where required uniforms
(1) are made of “wash and wear” materials,
(2) may be routinely washed and dried with other personal garments,
(3) do not require ironing, dry cleaning, daily washing, commercial laundering, or other special treatment, and
(4) are furnished to the employee in sufficient number, or the employee is reimbursed by the employer for the purchase of a sufficient number of uniforms, consistent with the average number of days per week worked by the employee.

(c) Employee chooses not to use employer-provided laundry service. The employer will not be required to pay uniform maintenance pay to any employee who chooses not to use the employer’s service, where an employer
(1) launders required uniforms free of charge and with reasonable frequency,
(2) ensures the availability of an adequate supply of clean, properly-fitting uniforms, and
(3) informs employees individually in writing of such service.

(d) Uniform maintenance pay shall not be offset by any credits for meals or lodging provided to the employee.
Nov. 10, 2011, 7:49 pm
theo from astoria says:
well, it does not count for most of the women posting negative comments about rocco. the reason why! they probably slept with him and then they were dumped. not fair, everyone one knows rocco has slept with most of his customers, married and single. so now about this situation....if rocco split the tips fairly according to positions and job duties...he's not in the wrong. uniforms is a whole other issue because the uniform that each wears is expensive. so rocco should take care of that. now is the tips are split and managers take a cut....rocco has a problem. it's wrong, sometime owners call a managers a captain...and that's what puts him in the wrong because it's a manager. manager should not take a split from tips. so all the girls taken cheap shots at this situation, back off.....you should have been more careful or more wise. for the other type that tried and which he never gave you a chance....too bad. i know rocco as a hi and goodbye basis, he has always been a gentleman with me and others. i see many woman come-on to him...married and single and for the guy haters, i say put a leash on your girl. don't hate the player hate the game. rocco has the best italian food....hands down!
Nov. 11, 2011, 8:42 pm
Larry from Queens says:
@Theo- That has to be one of the most incoherent, inarticulate, grammatically incorrect and defamatory "posts" I have ever read.

Don't make generalizations and accusations about people and situations you know nothing about. Know your facts.

There is more "flip-flopping" in your post than in a Rick Perry speech.

PS. From someone who knows first hand, it is Rocco who takes a 10% cut from waiters and busboys EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, not the manager. Illegal. Period.
Nov. 14, 2011, 8:55 pm
Lucas from Manhattan says:
Larry, I think you hit the nail on the head using few words! Theo's post doesn't make sense and is probably the most immature way to make a point. He discredited the earlier posts made by women who were commenting on Rocco's behavior in front of their families. In my opinion, Theo might be Rocco. Who talks about women like that in a post?

Rocco took money from the waiters. Its illegal and greedy. Rocco, you have enough money considering everytime I've gone to eat there you're on vacation. Once again illegal.
Nov. 15, 2011, 9:25 am
Lucas from Manhattan says:
Larry, I think you hit the nail on the head using few words! Theo's post doesn't make sense and is probably the most immature way to make a point. He discredited the earlier posts made by women who were commenting on Rocco's behavior in front of their families. In my opinion, Theo might be Rocco. Who talks about women like that in a post?

Rocco took money from the waiters. Its illegal and greedy. Rocco, you have enough money considering everytime I've gone to eat there you're on vacation. Once again illegal.
Nov. 15, 2011, 9:25 am
Mary from Brooklyn says:
My cousin worked there and he was always complaining he has to work all day on a family meal wich was a Pasta with " water " sauce and all of the staff wich is 14 people, had to stay until 1 o clock in the morning becouse he was hangin out w his friends and he did not care becouse they get 10 dollars a shift
Nov. 17, 2011, 1:18 pm
j.r. from LI says:
He may have money but he doesn't have any friends.
Nov. 18, 2011, 2:27 pm
j.r. from LI says:
He may have money but he doesn't have any friends.
Nov. 18, 2011, 2:27 pm
Guissepe from Astoria says:
Theo - The quality of his food doesn't make him honest or a good boss. I've heard ripping his employees a new one, it was sad to hear what was being said. Hopefully things change for these guys. I'm sure Rocco pocketed the money, this many employees fighting together shows and proves he was skimming them on tips.
Nov. 30, 2011, 9:11 pm
cristal from Astoria says:
I really can't say anything negative about Rocco or Trattoria L'incontro. I frequent this restaurant alo, and have never witnessed any of the issues the previous posters have mentioned. In all of my years of contact with Rocco, I have never had a problem. The resturant is great and is constantly filled to the max. I am in no way saying that the tips thing is not an issue, because if that is true it is illegal, but I really have a hard time accepting it as true. Everyone on here is bashing Rocco, but I wanted to put myself on a line and defend him and this establishment. It is a wonderful Resturant Venue, and has the reviews to back it up. :)
June 7, 2012, 7:39 pm
Freddy from Astoria says:
Rocco is a nasty person and people should not go there because he treats his staff like ——! People come to America to better themselves and he take advantage of them

P.S. I heard he left Italy because he liked looking at small children. Don't bring your kids there!
Oct. 7, 2012, 11:48 pm
John from Garden City says:
I saw Rocco scream at one of his employee because he dropped a glass of water, I felt upset that he treated him like animal. I have not and will not go to that place ever again. Employers should treat there employees the right way because its them that made or break a place
Rocco is a nasty man.
No wonder is being sued
I hope the employees win the law suit againist him!
Jan. 17, 2013, 11:39 pm
ToTo from Queens says:
Some of you (mainly Larry/Lucas) talk as if you know for sure that Rocco was taking money from their tips..... Were you there??? NO!! Then you really don't know.... Right? With regards to Rocco being firm with his staff, it's the right thing to do if you want to run a successful business and guess what? He does and it shows. I have been going to this restaurant since day one... and never seen Rocco scream at any of his workers. I keep going back because the food is fantastic and the service is superb. The way some of you take side with the waiters without knowing the facts seems to me a bit jealous of the fact that Rocco is a successful restaurant owner and has money that he worked for. You know what....eat s**t.
Feb. 1, 2013, 11:06 am
Ingrid from Queens says:
One word for all you negative posters here, HATERS. L'incontro is an amazing establishment. The food is wonderful, the staff is great. Never had any issues, never witnessed Rocco being disrespectful. He has worked hard to get where he is. From a small restaurant to where he is now. Stop hating on this guy because he has a successful place. Get over it , move on!
Dec. 30, 2013, 11:57 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

CNG: Community Newspaper Group