Restaurant Manager Accused of Sexual Harassment in New York City Lawsuit

Restaurants are regularly the site of unlawful sexual harassment all over the country and the world. New York City sexual harassment attorneys have seen countless scenarios in which managers and supervisors abuse their authority, or fail to rein in the offensive behavior of employees or customers. A lawsuit filed in September 2020 in a Manhattan state court alleges that a restaurant manager routinely harassed the plaintiff, who worked as a barista. This behavior persisted for two years, she claims, until the restaurant fired her, allegedly in retaliation for complaining. The complaint names the restaurant, its owner, and the manager as defendants.

Laws at the federal, state, and city level in New York City prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sex. This includes sexual harassment in situations where:
– Agreeing to sexual demands is a condition of employment, known as quid pro quo sexual harassment; and
– Unwelcome sexual remarks or behavior in the workplace are severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would find it offensive, known as a hostile work environment.

When someone in an executive or managerial position is the alleged harasser, the employer may be vicariously liable for their actions. Otherwise, the employer must have known, or been in a position where they should have known, about the offensive conduct, and they must have failed to make reasonable efforts to resolve the situation.

According to her complaint, the plaintiff began working for the defendant restaurant as a barista in early 2017. She alleges that the defendant manager’s sexual harassment “was immediate.” The manager and others, she claims, “were extremely sexist in who they would hire,” and she alleges that they regularly made lewd remarks about her and other employees and job applicants. In one instance, she alleges that she was instructed to attend a meeting after work, which turned out to be an outing to a strip club. On this and other occasions, she claims that he touched her inappropriately and propositioned her for sex.

The restaurant owner and co-founder “flew to New York to allegedly clean up [the manager’s] mess” in early 2019. The plaintiff claims that she met with the owner multiple times over the next month, and described the manager’s behavior to her at most or all of those meetings. Although the owner allegedly “promise[d] to fix the workplace,” the plaintiff states that “that promise never was realized.” She took a leave of absence, reportedly with “assurances that she would be able to return to her employment.” As she was preparing to return, however, she claims that her new manager told her that the owner “no longer wanted her working for [the defendant restaurant].”

The plaintiff filed suit in New York County Supreme Court in September 2020. She is asserting claims under both the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. She alleges discrimination and aiding and abetting discrimination under both statutes. She also alleges claims under city law for retaliation and supervisory liability. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, lost and back wages, and declaratory relief stating that the defendants violated city and state law.

The employment lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent New York City workers in claims for sexual harassment and other unlawful workplace practices. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our experienced and knowledgeable team, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

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