The Real Deal New York

Ex-superintendent sues embattled landlord Steve Croman over allegedly unpaid wages

Super says he worked an average of 81 hours a week
By Miriam Hall | October 07, 2016 07:30AM

Steven Croman

Steven Croman

Landlord Steve Croman is facing yet another slew of allegations — this time from a former superintendent who claims he’s owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime.

Manuel Deleg worked for Croman for nearly a decade, managing 11 of Croman’s buildings on the Lower East Side.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Deleg accuses his former boss and his affiliates of breaking state and federal laws by failing to pay him properly and forcing him to buy his own tools.

According to court documents, Deleg was paid a weekly wage of $430 in 2011. His pay increased in $673 in 2013, and was raised again at the start of this year to $738.

But Deleg says he worked an average of 81 hours a week, and had to be on-call around the clock for tenants. In his complaint, he says his workdays began at 5 a.m and that he was also required to work weekends. Deleg also claims he was forced to buy essential work tools and pay laborers and porters out of his own pocket.

In May, Croman was charged with 20 felonies including grand larceny and falsifying financial documents. An investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged the landlord — who owns 140 apartment buildings throughout Manhattan — spent years expanding his portfolio by harassing and coercing tenants out of their rent regulated homes and selling them at “highly profitable” market rates. Croman is further accused of demanding his property managers to focus on buyouts. Schneiderman first began looking into Croman and his affiliated companies in 2014, following hundreds of complaints from tenants. Croman is currently on bail and is due to appear in court on Nov. 29.

Deleg’s attorney Marc Rapaport told The Real Deal that Croman and his affiliates “seriously and willfully violated federal overtime law.”

“We believe the practice of underpaying immigrant workers to do arduous labor in apartment buildings is endemic,” Rapaport said. “It is a problem that needs to be addressed, not only in the courts but also by city and state government officials.”

A representative for Croman and his affiliates could not be immediately reached for comment. It was not clear who is representing the defendants.