CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The soup is getting thicker for Morrell Caterers on Long Island.
Lawyers representing 500 current and former busboys, waiters and bartenders are filing a class action lawsuit claiming the caterer withheld $10 million in gratuities.
“I’ve known about it for a long time but there’s nothing I could really say about it. I love my job, you become accustomed to living a certain way and I just didn’t want to rock the boat,” William Cataldo, a former maitre d’, said.
The lawsuit alleges that owner Scott Morrell charged his clients an 18 percent gratuity but didn’t share the money with employees.
“He would have recommended tips in the contract…bottom line is he deceived the public, he left the patron with the impression that the gratuity and these recommended tips were going to the service employees and he kept everything,” Jeffrey Brown, the lead attorney in the class action case. said.
“Morrell just had a complete sales tax audit and found that they distributed the service charge money to the employees so there can be no validity to their claim whatsoever,” Morrell Caterer’s attorney Steve Schlesinger told 1010 WINS.
The lawsuit comes just days after two former employees, general manager Tom Cataldo and executive chef Micheal Savitsky, accused the caterer of preparing non-kosher food in kosher kitchens.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is investigating.
Morrell has denied the allegations and claims the initial whistle blowers were being paid off by someone Morrell is suing in an unrelated case.
“This is part of a long, complicated extortion attempt by former people involved with Morrell and has no basis in reality,” Schlesinger said.