In a particularly egregious case of alleged sexual harassment, assault, and retaliation, SPOA, LLC and Marathos, LLC, which run the Italian restaurants Basta Pasta in Maryland, are paying $200,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The lawsuit claims the owner repeatedly subjected female wait staff, including teenagers, to extreme sexual harassment. The women, named in the suit as ‘Mary Smith’ and ‘Jane Doe,’ alleged the owner would rub his genitalia against their buttocks, make crude innuendo, and sexually suggestive remarks. In one instance, Doe believed the owner drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home. On multiple occasions, he gave Smith and Doe alcohol.

In addition, a manager charged she was retaliated against for reporting the harassment and abuse. The restaurant warned the manager to “keep her mouth shut” and then fired her.

Basta Pasta must pay out the $200,000 settlement and set in place additional measures to prevent future harassment.

Philadelphia District EEOC Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said, “The resolution of this lawsuit should remind all employers, and especially those who employ vulnerable workers such as teen workers, that the EEOC stands ready to vindicate workers’ rights and to ensure that no one has to endure appalling mistreatment in order to earn a living.”

Harassment in the restaurant and nightlife industry

Tragically, harassment runs rampant in the food and drink services business. New York City is home to countless restaurants and bars — which provide unlimited opportunities for unscrupulous owners to take advantage of young workers who are trying to make a name for themselves in the City. If you have been affected by sexual harassment, speak with a New York City attorney who can uphold your rights.

The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve sexual harassment in Manhattan and the greater New York City area. For further information, please feel free to call us at 212-587-0760.