Former Maitre D’ at Manhattan Restaurant Sues for Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

A lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court claims damages for an employee that were “suffered as a result of being sexually harassed, discriminated against, severely humiliated, mentally anguished, and emotionally and physically distressed by her employer.” Smalls v. Central Park Boathouse LLC, et al., No. 1:15-cv-04973, complaint at 1 (S.D.N.Y., Jun. 25, 2015). The plaintiff worked for a well-known restaurant in Central Park. The lawsuit names the restaurant, the owner and general manager, the restaurant manager, and the chef as defendants. It alleges sexual harassment, which is considered a type of sex discrimination, and other causes of action under city, state, and federal employment statutes.

According to her complaint, the restaurant hired the plaintiff, who was 19 years old, as a hostess in June 2013. She states that she was moved up to the position of maitre d’, after training herself for that job, about a month later. At about that time, the plaintiff alleges, the restaurant manager began repeatedly making inappropriate and explicit sexual remarks towards her, tried to engage her in conversations about topics of a sexual nature, and began asking her to accompany him to events as his date, even though she had asked him to leave her alone.

This sort of harassment continued, the plaintiff claims, into 2014. As is the case in so many alleged sexual harassment situations, she states that “she endured the harassment because she feared losing her job.” Id. at 6. She claims that she reported her concerns to the general manager, but neither he nor anyone else in a position of authority in the restaurant took any action to remedy the situation.

In October 2013, the plaintiff alleges, the general manager asked her to attend a “Chef’s Event” with the restaurant’s chef, “where she would represent the company.” Id. at 7. Both the general manager and the chef allegedly dismissed her concerns about being under the age of 21. She claims that she became intoxicated at the event, and he attempted to take advantage of her in her impaired state. Additional incidents allegedly occurred after this between her and the chef. The plaintiff also makes allegations with regard to racial and national origin discrimination.

The lawsuit asserts causes of action for:

– Sex discrimination, in the form of sexual harassment, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2(a)(1), 2000e(k); the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(1)(a); and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(a);
– Retaliation under all three statutes, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a)(1), N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(7), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(e);
– Aiding and abetting employment law violations under state and city law, N.Y. Exec. L. § 296(6), N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(6);
– Interference with protected rights under the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(19); and
– Supervisory liability under the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(13).

The sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates advocate for New York City workers who have been subjected to sexual harassment and other unlawful employment practices. Contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our legal team.

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