New York Waitress Sues Private Club for Sexual Harassment

According to a lawsuit filed by Alina Borgovan against Manhattan’s Union League Club, she faced almost daily sexual harassment from the chef and others when she worked there as a waitress. Borgovan, who is from Romania, began working at the club in May 2010 during breakfast and lunch shifts. She claims that head chef Jacques Thiebeult frequently insulted her and used other staff members to deliver “lewd messages” to her. Thiebeult allegedly relayed messages imploring her to have sex with him, even offering money in exchange. When she refused Thiebeult’s advances, she alleges that he became “offended” and subjected her to a hostile work environment, both through insults and modifications to her job duties and shifts. She was moved out of the main restaurant, and she claims that Thiebeult and two “Captains” monitored her whenever she was at work, even while she was on break, allegedly looking for excuses to harass her.

Borgovan wrote a letter to the club’s general manager in October 2011 outlining her complaints, but she says no action was taken. Shortly thereafter, she claims that a supervisor approached her in the club’s kitchen and touched her breasts. She again complained to the general manager, reportedly to no avail. The club reportedly terminated her in December 2011 after she filed a grievance with the club’s Board of Governors regarding the harassment.

The Union League Club was founded in 1863 at the height of the American Civil War, reportedly in support of the Union war effort. Since 1931, it has operated out of a historic residence belonging to the J.P. Morgan family. It has an impressive member list that, over the years, has included former U.S. presidents and others. Thiebeult is a world-renowned chef who has received honors by the French government for his cooking. He reportedly served as chef for George Pompido, former president of France.

Borgovan filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on March 16, 2012 for discrimination based on sex and national origin, hostile work environment, retaliation, and wrongful termination. She bases her claims on both state and municipal anti-discrimination laws. She is requesting a declaration and permanent injunction, unspecified compensatory damages, and punitive damages from the court.

Sexual harassment is treated as a form of sex or gender discrimination, since it involves disparate treatment of an employee based on the employee’s gender. Gender discrimination and sexual harassment are prohibited by state and federal laws, as well as by the Administrative Code of New York City. The New York City Commission on Human Rights investigates allegations of harassment and discrimination made by workers in the city, and the New York State Division of Human Rights investigates claims at the state level. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also investigates claims and sometimes files suit on behalf of employees who have suffered discrimination, harassment, or retaliatory termination.

The New York sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, fighting to protect their rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

Web Resources:

Complaint (PDF), Borgovan v. Union League Club, Supreme Court of New York, County of New York, March 16, 2012
More Blog Posts:

Immigrant and Latina Workers in New York Face Sexual Harassment, Other Employment Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 7, 2012
Seventh Circuit Upholds Waitresses’ Sexual Harassment Claim, Finds Anti-Harassment Policy to Be Ineffective, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 14, 2012
Waiter Sues Manhattan Restaurant for Sexual Harassment, Claims Celebrity Chef Did Nothing to Protect Employees, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 10, 2012

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