Baluchi’s Rakesh Aggarwal: A Million $$ Nightmare

Poor Rakesh Aggarwal could soon become Poorer Rakesh Aggarwal.

Poorer?

Yes, after all, the owner of the Baluchi’s Indian restaurant chain in New York City might now have to fork out close to a million dollars ($967,000 to be precise) in a proposed legal settlement with some of his current and former employees.

Our heart goes out to the Aggarwal bloke.

A million dollars is still a lot of money.

Plus the whole legal process of the last 18 months, including the depositions, must have been very stressful to Baluchi’s owner Rakesh Aggarwal.

We won’t be surprised if the legal strain has subtracted a few years from Rakesh’s life.

Origin of Baluchi’s / Rakesh Aggarwal’s Nightmare

Rakesh Aggarwal’s nightmare started in November 2008 when some of his former and current employees sued Rakesh and his Baluchi’s Indian restaurants alleging unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime wages, misappropriated tips, unauthorized deductions from their wages and unpaid spread-of-hour wages among other things.

The employees, who were waiters, cooks, dishwashers or delivery persons, alleged violation of federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.

Now the employees who filed the law-suit have reached a settlement with Rakesh Aggarwal and his Baluchi’s restaurants.

The legal papers relating to the proposed settlement have already been filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in NYC but is subject to final approval of the court.

Under the settlement, the defendants i.e. Rakesh Aggarwal and Baluchi’s have agreed to pay $967,000 (minus of course attorneys fees and administrative costs) to the current and former employees who qualify.

Settlement Terms

According to the court documents, the money is to be paid over a two and a half year period because of the financial condition of Rakesh Aggarwal, whose assets in the U.S. are said to be largely illiquid and consist of real estate and personal property.

Rakesh Aggarwal and Baluchi’s have denied any liability and wrongdoing and said they decided to settle the case to avoid the continued expenses, burdens and uncertainties of litigation.

It is important to note that the court has not decided who is right or wrong.

Employees’ Lawyers

While we can’t vouch for either side in the Baluchi’s case, we have come across other Indian restaurants (in New Jersey and California) where waiters have told us that they are not paid the tips left by diners.

By the way, the former and current employees of Baluchi’s who filed the law-suit were represented by Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart, 11 Broadway, Suite 2150, New York, New York 10004 Ph: 212.847.8315

Related Legal Documents:
Proposed Settlement
(If you are too lazy or impatient, head to Exhibit 2 P.21-58 in the PDF document)

11 Responses to "Baluchi’s Rakesh Aggarwal: A Million $$ Nightmare"

  1. elnino.aurora   July 21, 2010 at 1:13 am

    You should probably do a feature on Desi consultancy companies flouting norms and making a mockery of desperate Indian students and the H1B process.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    We’d be happy to do a feature on Desi consultancy companies flouting norms if you can point us to the courts where some cases have been filed. Otherwise, it just becomes He said, They said, She said, It said.

    We’ll treat all your tips as confidential.

    BTW, we hear from our friends in New Jersey that the immigration folks lately have become very strict with H1B firms. A good sign.

  2. elnino.aurora   July 21, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Not that the students aren’t to blame on that, partially. But worth a try- such an article.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Yes, particularly students/people from India’s #1 Hooker State a.k.a Andhra Pradesh are desperate to come here.

  3. kd36939   July 21, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Surprised by the fact that the employees filed law suit. most of the waiters in indian restaurants i have seen are low skilled workers poached from smaller towns/villages in india.

    wonder how they gathered information on filing law suits, appointing an attorney etc. that might have cost them too right? how were they able to manage? i suspect it’s a work of some disgruntled rival business owner. sounds film-ish, but very much possible.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    One of the interesting aspects of the legal system in the U.S. is the concept of Contingency Fee under which you pay the lawyers only if you win.

    This gives the disadvantaged/poor an opportunity to pursue the rich corporations/people in court in case of grievances.

    See this article on Wiki for a discussion of Contingency Fees.

    We must hasten to add that we do NOT know whether the contingency fee concept was applied in the Baluchi’s court case.

  4. shadowfax_arbit   July 21, 2010 at 4:40 am

    I’m surprised by the law and order over there.

    In India its only getting worse day by day. Alarming! See this
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTZf87leikU

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Just watched the video in above link.

    When we woke up this morning, the first headline we saw in the Times of India was: Bihar: MLAs hurl slippers at Assembly Speaker

    As we’ve said often, there’s no hope for Mera Bharat Mahaan.

    • shiva84   July 21, 2010 at 10:49 am

      Indian women’s hockey coach Kaushik accused in sex scandal. [Deleted]

      http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/more-sports/hockey/Hockey-sex-scandal-Kaushik-withdraws-videographer-sacked/articleshow/6195516.cms

      Mamata didi wants to stop anti maoist operation to get votes.

      http://in.news.yahoo.com/43/20100721/812/tnl-i-will-request-pm-to-stop-anti-maois.html

      This march didi made a funny statement which will even make Narasimha Rao laugh.

      http://ibnlive.in.com/news/kolkata-will-be-london-in-trinamool-rule-mamata/88500-37.html

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      1. Regarding your third link (above), in some parts of South India the word London refers to the toilet.

      People say: ‘I’m going to London’ when they want to go to the loo. We’re not joking.

      Maybe, what Mamta didi actually meant when she said her Trinamool party would turn Kolkata into a London was to turn the ‘city of joy’ into one big stinking toilet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      If anyone can keep this ‘London’ promise, it’s Mamta.

      Somebody, please hand this woman a laxative. She needs it badly.

      2. Regarding the deleted words in your first line, people are innocent until proven guilty.

      • shiva84   July 21, 2010 at 11:40 pm

        Even our puppet pm after being sworn in 2004 said he has plans to transform Mumbai into Shanghai. To this statement a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Indians can only make promises, they wont deliver anything. This statement turned out to be true.

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        You write: Even our puppet pm after being sworn in 2004 said he has plans to transform Mumbai into Shanghai.

        Our PM is an impotent (in the figurative sense) buffoon who can’t find his cojones with a flashlight and a map.

        The Yellow Monkeys (i.e. Chinese) are so far ahead as to make us weep. Have you seen their new trains? ๐Ÿ™

        We’re reading Martin Jacques’ When China Rules the World and having a hard time not sobbing our hearts out.

        • shiva84   July 22, 2010 at 12:50 am

          Dont you think in the long run China may meet the fate of erstwhile Soviet Union. I remember reading an article which says that if the Chinese economy slows down there will be massive peasant revolution which the Chinese will find difficult to control. Tibet and Xingiang are two troublesome areas for the Chinese.
          One more thing Pakistan is nothing but a right arm of China. Since Pakistan is on the verge of collapse yellow monkeys will lose their most trusted friend. Most of the resources necessary to sustain China’s economy growth comes from energy rich Central Asian states. If US gets a foot hold in Af Pak region China’s growth will suffer in the long run.

          If China becomes a superpower the world will be a tough place to live. Do you know commies like Jyoti Basu supported China in the 1962 Indo China war.

          SearchIndia.com Responds:

          1. You write: Dont you think in the long run China may meet the fate of erstwhile Soviet Union.

          That may not happen because the Chinese are more homogeneous (except for Tibet and some Muslims) compared to the erstwhile Soviet Union.

          2. Pakistan will not be allowed to collapse by the U.S. and China. Hillary Clinton was there just the other day, in another sign of the closeness of U.S. and Pakistan.

          3. Do you know commies like Jyoti Basu supported China in the 1962 Indo China war.

          Really?

          Not sure if we knew this earlier. Even if we did, we’ve forgotten it.

          What an awful choice for West Bengal – the Scylla of Mamta didi or the Charybdis of the commie traitors. No wonder that state is turning into a Bangladesh. ๐Ÿ™

          • shiva84   July 22, 2010 at 11:11 am

            SI, an article about Indian commies.

            http://www.indianetzone.com/7/communist_party_india_(marxist).htm

            Still there are traitors like Sitaram Yechury, Nirupam Sen who have openly supported China on Arunachal issue.

            Commies once opposed the usage of computers and internet in India, now they themselves have a website of their own.
            http://cpim.org/

            Whats more surprising is that while so many Indian Commies demand for the liberation of Palestine from Israel, they forget that their Dragon Cousins have been committing far worse atrocities in Tibet & Xinjiang (remember last year riots between Han Chinese & Uighurs in Xinjiang) province and they say Communism doesn’t believe in any kind of fundamentalist bigotry.

            SearchIndia.com Responds:

            More people have likely died under Communism than under any other ideology if you take into account the deaths in the erstwhile Soviet Union, China, Eastern Europe et al.

            That said there are some committed ‘left-oriented’ grassroots workers in India working at the village, taluk, district levels in mobilizing the poor against oppression by both individuals and the state..

  5. elnino.aurora   July 21, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I dont know of any such explicit news or information., but I was perusing this website – desicrunch.com for company reviews. And some of the things I read there weren’t very good. But I guess some digging through will bring up quite a bit of information. Whats worse, I keep getting mails from such companies. It’s like they throw baits to pull students.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Thanks. We’ll look at the site today.

  6. nyfoodie   August 2, 2011 at 12:04 am

    It’s interesting that this blog hasn’t done a feature on the employees Aggarwal, himself, has re-hired to work in his restaurants after they filed a law suit against him.

    This blog claims to provide information for the betterment of the South Asian Community and is doing something entirely different.

    If it is of more use for the South Asian community to see an article filled with misleading details about a respectable and successful South Asian business owner, good job!

    Maybe before typing in a frenzy, the people who write these articles should take a minute to a) research what they are writing and b) re-examine the mission behind this blog.

    Aggarwal represents an immigrant from India who came from modest backgrounds. He worked his way from a waiter in a fast food restaurant and became the owner of a successful chain of restaurants.

    He knows what it means to work on the line as a waiter and has always strived to give his employees their fair share. If a handful of waiters, who would rather sue him than work hard to earn their money, filed a law suit against him, how could you tarnish his reputation with such an article?

    In New York State, time after time, it has been seen that the Court always favors the labor party. I’m just saying that you need to write an article stating both sides of the argument, and not write things like “poor Rakesh Aggarwal” or “that the legal strain may have subtracted years” from Aggarwal’s life. Please stop forecasting your predictions about someone’s life and understand that you are writing about someone who was a pioneer in the market for Indian food. Without Aggarwal, the Indian food industry in New York City would not be the way it is today. How about we write something about that?

    I doubt that my comment will be posted because judging from your “about us” section, it doesn’t seem like this extremely critical and nonsensical blog has ever published or made use of constructive criticism.

    This article and blog don’t help the South Asian community. Instead the blog ridicules hard working South Asian citizens and tries to add drama to increase its readership.

    Oh and by the way- if you are wondering why I’m writing so passionately about this article and this man, it’s because he provided a job to my father and gave him a loan, interest free, so that I would have the opportunity to attend college.

    Please do respond back to my comment.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write: I doubt that my comment will be posted because judging from your “about us” section, it doesn’t seem like this extremely critical and nonsensical blog has ever published or made use of constructive criticism.

    Hey, the next time you get the itch to insult this fine blog remember to get a colon hydrotherapy….Because you stink, even from afar!

    No, we don’t shy away from critical comments as the publication of your comment logorrhea attests.

    2. You write: In New York State, time after time, it has been seen that the Court always favors the labor party.

    If you have the guts, stop pussyfooting around with words and say it loud and clear that Rakesh Aggarwal got screwed by the New York court system. But then you are too much of a p*ssy to say that.

    3. You write: Aggarwal represents an immigrant from India who came from modest backgrounds….If a handful of waiters, who would rather sue him than work hard to earn their money, filed a law suit against him, how could you tarnish his reputation with such an article?

    As per the court documents, Rakesh Aggarwal allegedly ripped his waiters, cooks, dishwashers etc off and really ripped us off with his cheap tipping practices during our meal at his crappy W56th St Baluchi’s restaurant.

    3. You write: Oh and by the way- if you are wondering why I’m writing so passionately about this article and this man, it’s because he provided a job to my father and gave him a loan, interest free, so that I would have the opportunity to attend college.

    You can wash Rakesh Aggarwal’s feet thrice a day and drink the tirtha water if you want to be grateful to him for giving your father a job.

    No, we don’t give a f*ck whether Rakesh Aggarwal gave your father a loan with interest or without interest. We ain’t interested in all dat irrelevant shit.

    4. You write: This blog claims to provide information for the betterment of the South Asian Community…This article and blog donโ€™t help the South Asian community

    Where the f*ck did we say we’re working for the betterment of the South Asian community. Learn to read, schmuck! No Indian gives a f*ck for another Indian. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Indians are the most hypocritical, selfish, evil swines on Planet Earth bar none.

    We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been treated badly at Indian restaurants in NY/NJ by the White-Ass-Kissing Indian staff toadies.

    5. You write: Without Aggarwal, the Indian food industry in New York City would not be the way it is today. How about we write something about that?

    Yeah right! A lot of Indian restaurants in NYC serve crappy food, are notoriously filthy, get closed down by the NYC Health Department, close shop frequently and you make it seem like Rakesh Aggarwal has unveiled a branch of heaven in Manhattan.

    Rakesh Aggarwal’s Baluchi’s at W56th St is the perfect example of a crappy NYC Indian restaurant – Poor Food, Rotten Service, Awful Hygiene (Live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas, as per NYC Health Dept’s June 27, 2011 inspection).

    **************
    SearchIndia.com’s NY/NJ/VA/DE/MD/Chicago restaurant reviews.

    • rama dasa   August 2, 2011 at 11:01 am

      Thanks SI for putting millions of hard working cable men out fo a job!now people are just going to log onto this blog for their daily dose of laughter instead of watching comedy central

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