By September, the Republican party may have entirely self-destructed, or Donald Trump may well have secured the nomination—but even if that latter nightmare scenario is realized, the demagogue will have to take a break from his yugely busy campaign schedule to head to court on Long Island: he's being sued by a former catering staffer who says she was cheated out of her tips while working at Trump SoHo in 2013.
According to the lawsuit filed in Suffolk County Supreme Court, where the plaintiff, Deborah Garcia, lives, the hotel charged a 22 percent service fee for catered events, which customers likely assumed was gratuity. That fee never made it to the caterers: Garcia made $15 an hour, but never received any of her tips.
"A reasonable customer would believe that the Service Charge was in fact a gratuity for [Garcia] and similarly situated employees," the suit says. "[The] defendants have engaged in a policy and practice of failing to pay the Service Charge...and instead retained the money for their own benefit."
State law dictates that an employer has to clearly indicate when such a fee isn't meant as a stand-in for gratuity, but Garcia's employers allegedly did no such thing. New York's labor law also forbids employers from pocketing employees' tips, and notes that unless clearly indicated otherwise, a service charge is presumed to be a tip.
Conveniently, Trump SoHo subcontracts out for its catering staff, according to a statement from its PR firm; as such, it's not the direct target of Garcia's lawsuit. Rather, the suit names a laundry list of LLCs associated with Alex and Tamir Sapir, the billionaire developers who lost the hotel to foreclosure in 2014. Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., along with their father, are due in court on September 1st.
The Donald's calendar is quickly filling up with such court appearances: he's set to take the witness stand in May in the class-action lawsuit over Trump University, just before Nebraska and West Virginia's primaries. And just last week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that a similar suit against Trump University in New York State will proceed. Drumpf has called that suit "a minor civil case I have not settled out of principle," despite the fact that the AG is suing him for $40 million, so one can only imagine how he'll respond to this case, for which no damages have yet been specified.
The suit is seeking class action status for the 40 other employees that worked alongside Garcia. Attorneys for all parties did not immediately respond to request for comment.