Check your check! Lawsuit alleges some NYC restaurants rip off diners by adding illegal gratuity

Posted at 7:43 PM, Jun 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-29 21:33:13-04

TIMES SQUARE (PIX11) — Double check that check tonight. A new lawsuit alleges various New York City restaurants automatically add a tip the bill.

The class action lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court. The plaintiff, New Yorker Ted Dimond, said in a statement, “This is an outrageous and illegal policy that taxes everyone, especially those with less money.”

The multi-milllion dollar lawsuit named Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, The Marriot Marquis Hotel and Applebees as the restaurants that have added the automatic gratuities.  The lawsuit stated that it represented consumers in New York City that ate in these restaurants form June, 2007 until now who where, “… charged an illegal automatic gratuity while consuming food and/or beverages in a New York City restaurant in parties of 7 or less or charged automatic gratuities in excess of 15% for parties of any size.”

The lawsuit cited the City’s Consumer Protection Law, noting restaurants can only add automatic gratuities to groups of 8 or more.

“For smaller groups with two people, I’d prefer to give my own tip. To choose how much we want to give,” said tourist Tracy Schofpfer.

Darden Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, responded Saturday to the lawsuit. A spokesperson said, ” The automatic gratuity, which is pointed out on our menu and on every guest receipt, is a convenience for our guests and a common practice at restaurants throughout Manhattan. This is the first time we’ve heard that there might be a problem with it in New York City. In addition, our guests always have the option of adding to, reducing or completely deducting the automatic gratuity before paying their check.”

Evan Spencer, the attorney that filed the lawsuit, said he thinks even more New York City restaurants will soon be named. Spencer told PIX 11 News he has checks from other restaurants to prove it.

New Yorker, Keira Ford, was eating at Ruby Tuesday Saturday night in Times Square. “You should have a choice on whether or not you want to tip the person because what if they give you poor service,”  said Ford.