Slutty Vegan CEO Pinky Cole responds to lawsuit after canceled TV segment

The owner of several popular Atlanta restaurants responded to allegations she withheld tips from employees at one of her businesses.

A former employee at Slutty Vegan CEO Aisha "Pinky" Cole's Bar Vegan hotspot in Ponce City Market claimed in a lawsuit the restaurant withheld a portion of her tips while paying her less than the federal minimum wage.

On Wednesday night, Cole posted on her Instagram account, "TODAY SHOW CANCELLED MY SEGMENT."

In the caption, she acknowledged advice from her legal team not to comment on the litigation but said she wanted to clear her reputation. 

"At the end of the day, my name means more to me than any money that could EVER go in my bank account- and I will NEVER let anybody destroy that," Cole wrote. 

The complaint alleges Bar Vegan paid tipped employees, including plaintiff Morgan Georgia, $2.13 an hour while requiring them give up 25% of their tips. 

"The allegations are and what our clients say is that Bar Vegan was keeping a large percentage of tips to cover operational costs in the restaurants," said attorney Travis Foust, who represents Georgia and other former employees.

The co-owners of the restaurants denied the claims in that complaint. Lawyers for the owners of Bar Vegan, in a court document in response to the lawsuit, said Georgia was a tipped employee, but employees "were paid compensation beyond that to which they were entitled while employed by Bar Vegan, such additional compensation would satisfy, in whole or in part, any alleged claim for unpaid minimum wages and/or overtime or other monetary relief."

The employees are seeking damages in the form of attorneys fees and money they earned during the hours they worked. 

Cole has authored several cookbooks in addition to opening multiple metro Atlanta restaurants.

Cole was the guest speaker for Clark Atlanta University's commencement in May where she announced she was gifted each 2022 graduate a limited liability company, LLC, encouraging graduates to be entrepreneurs.

"Every single graduate in this audience will leave this stadium as a business owner," she said. 

Cole graduated from CAU in 2009 with a major in mass communication/media studies. She was initiated into the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Cole was named Miss Clark Atlanta in 2008. 

Her non-profit, the Pinky Cole Foundation, provides financial literacy and entrepreneurship training.