Douglas Elliman has filed a complaint against Compass, alleging Compass violated a non-solicitation agreement that prevents Compass from recruiting from Elliman, in exchange for full commission payments to Leonard Steinberg and Herve Senequier, both former Elliman agents. The complaint by the Manhattan-based firm comes less than one month after Steinberg and Senequier sued Elliman for the commission payments, which they claim have not materialized.
“This action arises from an unlawful scheme by real estate brokerage Compass and its President, Steinberg, and Vice President of Strategic Development, Senequier—both former Douglas Elliman real estate sales agents—to steal Douglas Elliman’s top talent and interfere with its exclusive contracts,” the complaint states.
“Steinberg and Senequier’s recruiting tactics were not subtle,” according to the complaint, which claims Steinberg and Senequier sent “a barrage of text messages, phone calls and e-mails” to Elliman’s 17th Street office to coordinate meetings with Robert Reffkin, co-founder and CEO of Compass.
“The recruiting was orchestrated by Steinberg and Senequier but designed to look as though it was coming from others to conceal their involvement in the scheme. Compass aided them, induced them, and participated in this scheme,” the complaint states.
More than 50 agents have left Elliman since November of last year, despite the 18-month non-solicitation period agreed to by Compass, Elliman claims. Steinberg and Senequier claim they and their teams are owed more than $500,000 in unpaid commissions for deals that had not yet closed when they departed Elliman, arguing that they gave several of their unsold listings to Elliman brokers.
“This baseless lawsuit is nothing more than a poor attempt to draw attention away from the real issue—that Leonard and Herve brought a recent lawsuit against Douglas Elliman for failure to pay monies clearly owed to them,” a Compass spokesperson told RISMedia.
A spokesperson for Elliman declined to comment on the litigation.
Steinberg was in attendance at RISMedia’s Annual Real Estate CEO Exchange this September in New York City, offering perspective on Compass’ unconventional model on the panel “The Evolution of the Real Estate Model: What’s Working and Why.” The company was valued at over $1 billion in August.
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