Upstate Restaurant Subjected Seven Women to Groping, Offensive Sexual Comments and Retaliation, Federal Agency Charged
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Angelo's Pizza and Grill, Inc. and Kefalas Enterprises, Inc., the former and current owners of Angelo's Pizza and Grill, a full-service family restaurant located in upstate New York, will pay seven women $35,000.00 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit charged that Angelo's owners subjected seven female employees to sexual harassment from January 2005 through September 2012. Angelo's Pizza, located in Rouses Point, N.Y. in Clinton County near Plattsburgh, was purchased by Kefalas in September 2012. In January 2013, Kefalas was added to the lawsuit as a successor employer.
According to the seven harassment victims, Angelo's owners, Kostantinos Raptis, Nikolaos Raptis and Andrew Xenos, groped their breasts and buttocks and made sexually explicit propositions and comments, including requests for sexual acts and other lewd remarks. For example, one of the owners would hold a cucumber or orange traffic cone between his legs and simulate sex. Another forced a female employee into a back storage room, where he shut the door, turned off the lights, touched her breasts and fondled her. Angelo's owners also routinely made comments about oral sex and body parts. The EEOC further alleged that Kefalas fired two of the women in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Angelo's Pizza & Grill, Inc., and Kefalas Enterprises, Inc., 8:11-cv-01043 (NAM) (RFT), in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in August 2011 after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Although Kostantinos and Nikolaos Raptis and Andrew Xenos, the original owners of Angelo's Pizza, are no longer involved in the restaurant, both Angelo's and Kefalas will be bound by a three-year consent decree settling the suit. The decree, in addition to the $35,000 monetary relief, enjoins Angelo's, its principals and any future businesses it may purchase or operate and Kefalas from engaging in future sexual harassment or retaliation. Kefalas must also put mechanisms in place to protect any future employees from sexual harassment and retaliation. The decree has been approved by Federal District Court Judge Norman A. Mordue.
"These women were subjected to especially crude and unacceptable conduct," said EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry. "The EEOC will not stop aggressively pursuing remedies for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace."
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Judith Biltekoff added, "The victims in this case have shown great strength in standing up to right the wrongs perpetrated against them by their former employer. They live and work in a small town in upstate New York where jobs are at a premium. It took courage to come forward at the risk of losing their jobs. We are pleased that they will be compensated and that future harassment will be prevented."
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the commission is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. The Buffalo Local Office is part of EEOC's New York District Office which oversees New York, New England and portions of New Jersey.