A Bronx food service worker says actor Richard Gere and a whole lot of other people have stiffed him on tips.
Marshall Maor filed a class-action lawsuit in state Supreme Court, Westchester County, on Jan. 16 naming the Bedford Post Inn, Gere and his partner Russell T. Hernandez, claiming they pocketed gratuities that should have been paid to staff who worked at catered events.
The lawsuit was one of three that Maor filed in two days, and one of several he has filed in recent years, over the same issue.
Gere, Hernandez and actress Carey Lowell acquired the Bedford property in 2007. They restored an 18th century farmhouse and opened two restaurants, an eight-room inn and a yoga studio. Lowell, who finalized her divorce from Gere in October, was not named in the lawsuit.
Maor said the inn, where he worked in various capacities in 2013, assesses a mandatory, 22 percent service charge for banquets and catered events.
He claims that the sales and events staff allowed patrons to believe that the service charge was a gratuity for service employees. Instead, he said, the business and partners pocketed the money and paid the service staff only an hourly wage.
He also claims that the inn failed to maintain complete records of service charges, as required by state law.
Erik Bailey, general manager of the inn, did not immediately respond to email and voicemail requests for comment.
Maor sued on behalf of all waiters, servers, captains, bussers, bartenders, food runners, maître d’s and bridal attendants who were hired since 2011 to work at parties, birthdays, holiday celebrations, weddings, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs and other events catered by the Bedford Post Inn.
During the same week, Maor sued Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, where he said he worked in 2013, and a family of caterers who run Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle, where he said he worked in 2014. The allegations and language are nearly identical in all three cases.
Last year he sued Paramount Country Club, formerly Dellwood Country Club in New City, for allegedly withholding gratuities. That case is pending. A lawsuit against Royal Regency Hotel in Yonkers was discontinued in 2015.
The New York Post reported last year that Maor had worked for 11 companies since 2007 and sued every one, including the Russian Tea Room, Cipriani restaurants and Cirque du Soleil performances.
Several cases have been settled under confidentiality agreements.
One settlement has been made public.
Maor sued Crowne Plaza White Plains, where he worked at least 80 catered events from 2013 to 2015.
He set up and broke down events, served food and drinks and cleaned up, according to an affidavit filed last year. And he made sure “that the guests were having a good time.”
He said he was paid a flat hourly rate and a portion of the service charge.
State Supreme Court Judge Joan B. Lefkowitz certified the class action and approved a $990,000 settlement fund for service staff who worked at events from 2008 to 2015.
Maor was granted a special payment of $7,500, in addition to his claim for lost tips, for taking the lead role in the litigation. The court approved $400,000 for attorney fees and expenses for Leeds Brown Law, Carle Place, New York, and Virginia & Ambinder, New York City.
Given his experience working for multiple caterers, Maor said in the affidavit, he knows that many fail to distribute service charges to waiters.
“The lawsuits that I have brought,” he said, “help protect exploited workers.”