A tennis pro is suing a half-dozen restaurant chains on behalf of consumers in the five boroughs for allegedly illegally adding tips to smaller groups of diners.
Ted Dimond claims that Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, the Marriott Marquis Hotel and Applebee’s in Midtown have all automatically added gratuities of 15 percent or more to his bills at least once.
The native New Yorker, 47, runs the courts at Randall’s Island in the winter and teaches tennis in the Hamptons during the summer. He helps actresses like Naomi Watts and fashion bigs like Vogue entertainment editor Jillian Demling brush up on their backhands at Sportime in Amagansett.
BREAK $ERVE: NYC and Hamptons tennis pro Ted Dimond is suing chain restaurants for allegedly adding tips illegally on parties of less than eight.
New York City law says restaurants “may not add surcharges to listed prices” except for groups of eight or more.
But Dimond claims the eateries regularly flout the rule by “price fixing.” The practice “has jointly raised the prices of dining in restaurants while simultaneously lowering the quality of products and services.”
Dimond’s attorney, Evan Spencer, said that his client also dines at more upscale restaurants where illegal tipping happens but that the joints named in the suit were the most egregious violators.
Dimond wants wronged customers to be recouped $50 plus $1,000 for “willful violations,” where restaurants trick diners into adding a second tip when one is already included.
The result is millions in improper profits, the Manhattan Supreme Court suit says.
The legal papers note that when a Long Island man was arrested in 2004 for refusing to pay an 18 percent automatic gratuity, the district attorney tossed the charge, saying “a tip or gratuity is discretionary.”
The class-action suit cites a 2009 Post investigation that found that dozens of businesses, including trendy La Birreria on Fifth Avenue, had engaged in illegal tipping practices and been fined.
Half of the chains did not immediately return requests for comment. Marriott spokeswoman Cathleen Duffy acknowledged that the Times Square hotel’s Crossroads American Kitchen and Bar charges 18 percent gratuity on parties of six or more. She claimed not to know that the law applied only to groups of eight or more.
A representative for Red Lobster and Olive Garden said he was looking into the allegations.