A lawsuit filed today by nine long-time employees of the world-famous luxury hotel Waldorf-Astoria alleges that the New York institution’s management and Hilton Worldwide, Inc. violated state labor laws, according to Outten & Golden LLP.
The banquet waiters, most of whom have worked for the Park Avenue hotel for at least 20 years, accuse the hotel and Hilton of skimming gratuities that customers were led to believe were “service charge” gratuities to be paid in their entirety to the service staff.
This practice violated the New York Labor Law (NYLL), according to the complaint. The New York Court of Appeals in “Samiento v. World Yacht Inc.,” 10 N.Y.3d 70 (2008) found the practice to be unlawful.
Justin M. Swartz, Molly Brooks and Rachel Bien, of Outten & Golden LLP in New York, and Louis Pechman and Laurie Berke-Weiss, of Berke-Weiss & Pechman LLP in New York, represent the banquet waiters.
The lawsuit seeks to recover misappropriated service charges and special banquet gratuities for all persons who have worked as banquet waiters who have worked at the hotel’s private dining events since February 22, 2004.
Attorney Justin M. Swartz stated, “The Waldorf-Astoria, which claims to offer ‘peerless service standards’ and ‘an unrivaled palette of resources and talent,’ should have been careful to follow the labor laws in doing so. The Waldorf’s ‘unforgettable’ private dining experience should not have been provided at the expense of the hardworking banquet waiters, many of whom have been employed at the hotel for decades.”
Attorney Louis Pechman stated, “The law is clear that workers are entitled to keep the service charges they earn. We hope that this lawsuit will shine a light on the unlawful practice of employers retaining service charges that are meant for their employees.”
The case is “Orlando Colon, et al. v. Hilton Worldwide, Inc., et al.,” U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Case No. 10 CV 1575.
The plaintiffs are Orlando Colon, of Bay Shore, N.Y.; Talibun Noor, of New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Henri Dragoti, of Bronx, N.Y.; Theofanis Koutsiaftis, of New York, N.Y.; Stephan Kuruvilla, of New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Sergio Ortiz, of North Bergen, N.J.; Vassilios Pantazis, of Astoria, N.Y.; Marian Sepcaru, of Rego Park, N.Y.; and Varghese Thomas, of Jericho, N.Y.
Attorney Contacts: Justin M. Swartz and Molly Brooks, Outten & Golden LLP, New York, 212.245.1000, www.outtengolden.com; and Louis Pechman and Laurie Berke-Weiss, Berke-Weiss & Pechman LLP, New York, 212.583.9500, www.bwp-law.com.