En Español Know Your Rights
Source: New York Daily News
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Former Employees Jostlin’ Jocelyne Wildenstein for Penny-ante Wages

  

Me-ee-ow!

Millionaire socialite Jocelyne Wildenstein, nicknamed the cat woman because of her serial plastic surgery, stiffed four laborers who remodeled her Trump World Tower apartments, the workers claimed Sunday.

Wildenstein owes them a total of $13,300 in unpaid wages for renovation work on two apartments she owns in the glamorous skyscraper near the United Nations, the men claimed in legal papers.

"This woman is playing with us," Ezequiel Huerta, 27, said in Spanish to reporters outside her building. "I have a family to maintain, and I need her to pay me."

Wildenstein is believed to have won millions in a 1999 divorce settlement from her billionaire husband, art dealer Alec Wildenstein.

Huerta, who lives in Elmhurst, Queens, said she owes him $5,000. Besides doing construction work, he ran errands for her like picking up her morning cappuccino and doing her food shopping, he said.

Huerta and two other workers, Luis Romero and Felix Allaico, filed lawsuits against Wildenstein in Queens Small Claims Court in February.

A fourth man, Omar Noboa, hasn’t filed a claim because Wildenstein’s lawyer assured the men she’d pay up, said the workers’ attorney, Elizabeth Wagoner.

"We are shocked Ms. Wildenstein has delayed paying for over a year such a relatively small sum of money to workers who have families who need to eat," said Wagoner, of Make the Road New York, an advocacy group for low-wage workers.

Neither Wildenstein nor her lawyer could be reached.

Wildenstein, whose drastic plastic surgeries also earned her the nickname Bride of Wildenstein, triumphed in one of the most sensational divorce battles of the 1990s.

Her 20-year marriage hit the skids when her husband was arrested in their upper East Side home on charges of pointing a pistol at her when she caught him in bed with his 19-year-old model girlfriend.

When the divorce deal was done, her lawyer, Bernard Clair, crowed, "Money is no longer a concern for Jocelyne."

In contrast, one worker who sued her said he’s only able to find work two or three days a week. The $4,200 she owes him would be a lifeline.

"It never occurred to me that such a wealthy lady living in Trump Tower would refuse to pay me," said Romero, 40.