Restaurant Worker Awarded One Million Dollars in Sexual Harassment Case against Her Customer

Sexual Harassment Attorneys – When people think about workplace sexual harassment, most of the time they automatically assume that the harasser is more than likely the victim’s supervisor or coworker.  Many times this holds true; the victim’s supervisor, supervisor from another area or coworker have all been guilty of this type of misconduct in plenty of instances.  But what happens when the victim is being sexually harassed by a client or a customer that frequents the business?

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Believe it or not, this happens more often than most of us are aware of. Did you know that there are laws set up to protect employees in the event that a customer imposes unwelcome sexual advances or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature?

A cocktail waitress in Pittsburgh recently experienced this type of misconduct from someone in her workplace.  Because of this, she took her case to federal court and won a sexual harassment lawsuit in the amount of one million dollars against her former employer, the Rivers Casino.  The waitress, Allyson Pelesky, collected $150,000 in compensation and $999,000 in punitive damages.  The sexual harassment did not come from any of Pelesky’s supervisors nor did it come from any of her coworkers, it came from a customer who often spent time at the casino spending large amounts of money.

The Rivers Casino claimed it has a zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment but clearly that policy was violated when one of the casino’s regular customers came in and tipped Pelesky with a $1 chip by placing it in her bra and touching her breast in the process.  Pelesky, 28 agreed not to press charges but did report the incident to the police. She had been working for the casino for five years as a full-time cocktail waitress prior to the incident and since the casino decided to place a lifetime ban on the customer, she didn’t feel it necessary to take additional action. It wasn’t until the casino lifted its ban after only 40 days, allowing the player to return that Pelesky decided to seek legal action.  Pelesky’s attorney, Tim Barry says that he believes the casino let the man return because he is a high-roller.  A representative for the casino said that it disagreed with the decision and is considering options.

“From the very beginning, all I asked was that this man did not come back to the casino. I didn’t want to have to see him every day,” Pelesky said. To make matters worse, she claims the other employees teased her quite a bit since the incident occurred.

Pelesky’s case is in no way isolated.  Last year The Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC) released a detailed report showing sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.  The report indicated that its been found roughly 90 percent of waitresses experience some form of sexual harassment.

Pelesky says: it does not matter if you are a waitress or supervisor; respect is deserved on any level.

This statement holds true for any individual in any profession.  Whether you are a doctor, nurse, dental assistant, cashier, or a sous chef, you are well-deserved of respect and the ability to work in a non-hostile job environment.

If you are not getting the respect you deserve and/or you are working in a hostile workplace, then you will want to contact our firm to fight for justice on your behalf.

The sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek T. Smith Law Group, PLLC handle a multitude of sexual harassment cases in Manhattan and the greater New York City area. We also represent employees’ sexual harassment cases in New Jersey, Pennsylvania & Washington D.C. Sexual Harassment is gender-based discrimination and is illegal. For further information, please feel free to call us at 212-587-0760 or toll-free at 1-877-4NYLAWS or click here to schedule a free consultation.


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