Back in May, a group of beer and food servers at Yankee Stadium sued the concession company they worked for, accusing Legends Hospitality of pocketing their hard-earned tips. Legends -- which is co-owned by the Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys and Goldman Sachs -- seems to have gotten the vendors' message, judging from revamped menus now found inside the stadium.
The vendors' lawsuit revolves around an involuntary 20 percent service fee that's tacked on to the original price of a cold beer, hot dog and any other ballpark fare sold to fans in lower-level seats. Although most fans would assume the 20 percent fee is a tip, the bulk of that surcharge has been going not to the hustling vendors but to Legends itself, according to the lawsuit. Brian Schaffer, an attorney for the vendors, previously told HuffPost that Legends management had forbade his clients from explaining to spectators how the system really works.
But now fans can see for themselves, thanks to a disclaimer added to the food menu [see photo below] sometime between the filing of the vendors' lawsuit in federal court and last week's sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers. It reads, in part:
"The 20% Supplemental Charge appears as one amount on your bill, but represents both an Administrative Fee and a Gratuity."
The "administrative" chunk of the extra charge far outweighs the "gratuity" portion, according to the note. The server takes home a measly 4 to 6 percent of the add-on cost, depending on seniority, while Legends swallows the remaining 14 to 16 percent.
"14-16% of your total bill before tax will be added as an Administrative Fee," the note explains. "This amount is not a gratuity. Rather, it is retained by Legends to help defray administrative costs." (emphasis is Legends.)
The detailed disclaimer could be Legends' attempt to get in better line with a New York law that says no employer can "retain any part of a gratuity or of any charge purported to be a gratuity for an employee."
Schaffer said he's aware of the new disclaimer but cannot discuss pending litigation. A Yankees spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Shortly after filing the lawsuit, Schaffer said that Legends' service-fee system cheats not only the vendors but the fans as well, since it artificially inflates the price of food and drink. "It's pretty unbelievable if you think about what's going on," Schaffer said. "Honestly, I couldn't fathom the profits."
Legends Hospitality has exclusive rights to selling food at both Yankees and Cowboys stadiums. Upon the formation of Legends in 2008, the company's CEO said their goal was to "create a new paradigm in sports concessions that will deliver unparalleled and affordable stadium experiences for fans."
The extra fee at Yankees Stadium pushes the price of some beers from $10.50 to $12.60.
Read the new menu disclosure below: