GrubStreet has an article about Mr Kirschenbaum, who has brought several wage / tips / working conditions on behalf of restaurant workers.
Although the industry likes to cite his suits against small operators, it seems his usual strategy is to bring a class action in situations where a celebrity chef etc is the defendant. That will allow publicity to work in favor of his clients, often people who lack the resources to fight back against owners. The suits against Batali / Bastianich, Nobu and others won huge settlements.
Owners have said that settling is just cheaper than letting a suit drag out through the legal system, but since the cases don't go to court, it raises the main question surrounding Kirschenbaum's practice: Are the restaurants being sued really doing anything illegal, or has Kirschenbaum identified a legal gray area that he can exploit?
Carolyn Richmond, a lawyer for numerous restaurateurs, told the Post that suits like Kirschenbaum’s are “a disaster for many small operators” and remarked to Crain’s that “from our perspective, [such lawsuits are] a scam.” In the same article, Andrew Rigie, the executive vice-president of the city chapter of the New York Restaurant Association, claimed that “the litigious atmosphere in New York” was compelling operators to open establishments in other cities.
One industry commenter observed that the "litigious climate in NY" is forcing some owners to open restaurants in other cities. Where, presumably, the legal climate is more friendly to underpaying staff, grabbing tips, etc.