Salt Bae Is Being Sued By 5 Grill Staffers. Here's Why

One day, perhaps, we will have an article in which we feature Salt Bae for positive reasons. Today, however, is not that day.

Two days ago, The New York Post reported that Nusret Gökçe, also known as Salt Bae, had received yet another lawsuit. The complaint filed by five workers for his Manhattan restaurant is that he had categorized his workers as managers, meaning that they could not qualify for overtime even while working 70 hours per week. All five workers are Turkish immigrants who moved to America to work at the encouragement of Gökçe and filled out their visa applications with the impression they'd be in a more managerial position. Instead, they were roped into performing all kinds of labor, from washing dishes to cooking "special meals for the managers," and were even ordered to serve as security during "periods of social unrest in New York." 

The New York Post offers the additional context that at Salt Bae's restaurants, one of the cheapest menu items is a $25 kale salad. 

Just another lawsuit for Salt Bae

At this point, Salt Bae must have some ointment to soothe the rash of lawsuits plaguing him.

This is not even the first lawsuit to come out of his Manhattan restaurant. In January 2019, Eater reported on a lawsuit that complained of Salt Bae skimming 3% off of the tips before handing the rest to his workers, and firing anyone who complained about it. Gökçe was later ordered to pay $230,000 to the affected workers, per the New York Daily News.

In February 2021, Eater also covered a lawsuit filed by the Dallas-based construction company BengeTexas for $933,000 in unpaid bills. And in April, the International Business Times wrote that the Brooklyn artist William Hicks was also suing Salt Bae for $5 million for using commissioned artwork without compensation.

By this point, a motif emerges. Namely, Salt Bae extracts value from all types of sources without any intention to give back. How his restaurants will continue to operate with an owner who seems hellbent on burying his reputation under a mound of lawsuits is anyone's guess. Perhaps he'll turn a new page. Probably not, but perhaps.