Siderow Residential Group co-founder Lauren Weiner is accusing her former partners of harassment, verbal abuse and even trapping her in her office in an attempt to push her out of the boutique residential brokerage.
The firm’s former chief operating officer claims that CEO Bradford Siderow and President Joshua Arcus repeatedly harassed her and physically intimidated her “to coerce her into surrendering her membership interests,” according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court. She is seeking at least $1 million in damages.
In addition to being denied access to the company’s records, Weiner claims she was “stalked by process servers at her home” after she left the firm in May 2015.
According to the suit, Weiner had been a broker since 2002 and started her own firm, ATLAS Real Estate New York, in 2006.
In 2013, Siderow and Arcus convinced her to combine her business with theirs — but in doing so, they deliberately misrepresented the potential of the joint venture by talking up prior experience and lucrative connections, the suit claims. Terms of the deal gave Weiner a 33 percent ownership stake in Siderow Residential, and guaranteed her a payout from the company’s first $300,000 of gross profits in 2014. Depending on how the company performed, she was to receive between 40 percent to 60 percent of the profits, the suit alleges.
In her suit, Weiner claims her former partners failed to bring in new business, “brazenly” raided the brokerage’s accounts for their own purposes and “shamelessly” misappropriated the firm’s assets.
When she confronted them last year, the suit said, they tried to force her out. Weiner could not be reached for comment, and it’s unclear if she’s moved to another firm or revived ATLAS since leaving Siderow.
Siderow Residential did not address Weiner’s allegations when reached by The Real Deal on Friday. But in a statement, the firm characterized her claims as an off-shoot to an ongoing legal battle to dissolve the partnership.
“Our attorney is in the process of reviewing the papers, however we expect a complete and satisfactory resolution to this legal matter,” the statement read.
On its website, Siderow Residential claims it has 21 agents and oversees more than $2 billion in real estate, including 4,000 rental units in New York City. The firm was spun off from the Siderow Organization in 2014.
Siderow Organization — which operates the residential division alongside Siderow Commercial Group — was founded in 2008 by Eric Levy and Bradford Siderow, whose father, Neil, co-founded Murray Hill Properties. Levy left the firm in 2011 in the wake of an argument over allegedly misappropriated funds. At that time, Levy paid Siderow $120,000 but he later filed a lawsuit saying he’d been coerced into admitting to fraud.
In her suit, Weiner claimed the tactics Siderow execs used to push her out were also deployed against Levy.
According to Weiner’s suit, she reported the harassment to the Department of State’s Division and Licensing Services. Her formal complaint with the state also alleged that Bradford Siderow did not have a broker’s license, and therefore ran his business unlawfully for nearly a decade, according to court documents. That complaint is still under investigation, the suit said. A search through state department records on Friday found that Siderow’s broker license is valid until May 2017.