The Sagamore resort sued over tip collection policies

The Sagamore resort sued over tip collection policies

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BOLTON — The Sagamore resort’s parent companies have been sued in state Supreme Court for allegedly withholding tips from workers after patrons paid a “service charge,” and counsel in the case is seeking to make it a class action on behalf of the business’ employees.

The lawsuit names Sagbolt LLC and its parent, Ocean Properties Ltd., for purported “willful violation” of state Labor Law in not paying workers tips that had been paid by guests through a 20 percent “service charge” per person at its catering events, such as weddings and parties.

It was filed by Fort Ann resident Evelyn O’Brien, and her lawyers are seeking to have the case handled as a class action on behalf of other current and former Sagamore employees, court records show. O’Brien worked as a bartender and waitress at the time the lawsuit was filed earlier this year.

It’s alleged that the practice began in April 2012.

Court documents do not estimate how much money she is seeking as compensation, or how much money her lawyer believes the resort took in through the failure to turn over the “service charges” to employees.

Corporate documents show a 20 percent service charge was imposed per customer at events, which the plaintiffs’ lawyers claim were “gratuities that were unlawfully retained by the hotel’s management and distributed to non-eligible employees, including to the hotel itself, instead of being provided to the service employees who earned them.”

“In willful violation of the New York State Labor Law, the defendant charged customers a 20 percent service charge and failed to remit such gratuity to plaintiff and similarly situated employees,” the lawsuit states.

It was unclear Tuesday whether the state Labor Department was asked to look into the situation. An inquiry to the agency’s press office was not returned Tuesday.

A lawyer for the defendants, Michael Slocum, said Tuesday he had no comment on the case. Another, Catherine Molloy, said she could not comment on the case without the companies’ permission.

O’Brien is being represented by Chaudhuri Law, PLLC of New York City and Joseph Moen of Saratoga Springs. Neither returned a phone call for comment Tuesday.

The lawsuit is pending before Supreme Court Justice Martin Auffredou. No trial date has been set, and the judge is considering a request by plaintiff’s counsel to expand the lawsuit to include all eligible current and former workers.

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