Salt Bae accused of ‘God complex’ and stealing staff tips by former staff in legal battle

Described as ‘gold from the outside but sh*t from the inside’, former employees bare all on the viral steak restaurant

Updated on • Written By Tara Spink

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Salt Bae accused of ‘God complex’ and stealing staff tips by former staff in legal battle

Salt Bae’s former employees have branded the viral sensation a ‘tip thief’, and condemned him for both discriminating against staff and practising a ‘hypermasculine’ work culture across his restaurants.

A court case with nine former employees and seven lawsuits has seen the instagram sensation accused of stealing his employees' wages, discrimination, and creating a hostile environment.


Nusret Gökçe, also known as Salt Bae, was formerly a butcher before becoming an internet meme in 2017 for sprinkling salt on to some meat. Now, the star owns 22 restaurants, and has a net worth of $70 million.

The 'masculine culture' was fuelled by instances of sexual and racial discrimination, it has been claimed, including ordering female staff members to wear revealing outfits, and then proceeding to fire them if that objected.

Salt Bae has received a variety of tip related complaints too, including ex-employees saying that their tips were withheld, which saw them subsequently fired after they raised the issue they say. There were also cases of $140 apparently being slashed from a waitress's tips after she accidentally delivered a bag of leftover steak to the wrong table, and an employee being fired on the spot after dropping a glass in front of the owner, the case suggests. A former server at the New York restaurant had also previously complained that 3% of tips were taken before being distributed to employees.

Steak wrapped in some gold leaf

A former employee at the Nusr-Et site in London described the site as ‘gold from the outside but sh*t from the inside’, whilst another compared the working environment to The Hunger Games as staff never knew if they would be fired during a shift, with a third likening the restauranter to a dictator.

A manager who previously worked for the star said 'His world was nothing but Instagram and fame. The sensation was him. He ended up getting this godlike complex.'

Most court cases have now been settled, but Salt Bae continues to have new employees challenge him, it has been reported.

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