New York civil rights lawyer David Perecman comments on a recent sexual harassment lawsuit against Executive Chef Eric Hara and The Oak Room.
Sexual harassment in New York restaurants has been making the news lately.
According to the New York Post, former pastry chef Melissa Rodriguez claimed that she and other staffers were sexually harassed in the workplace by their boss, Executive Chef Eric Hara, on a regular basis. In the lawsuit, Rodriguez said she was subjected to “sexual, physical, and culinary harassment," by Hara.
Said Rodriguez, Hara "would literally pick me up and throw me in the garbage can -- just because he thought it was funny."
Hara also allegedly said to her that he hired her only because of her looks and nicknamed her "Whore." Rodriguez said he would boast "all he had to do was get one drink in [her] and [she] would go to bed with him.
Rodriguez said she endured the sexual harassment in the workplace because Hara threatened to ruin her career if she quit, and because she wanted to get into the union.
“Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is a common problem throughout New York. Stressful working conditions, odd working hours and informal work atmosphere can all increase the risk of sexual harassment in the workplace, and the liabilities and damages which result,” said David Perecman, a New York civil rights lawyer for over 30 years.
Allegedly, Hara harassed the one other female employee in the kitchen, as well.
Hara, who has since left the Plaza hotel restaurant to open his own, denied the allegations of sexual harassment claims.
Other restaurants at the center of New York sexual harassment lawsuits are Gordon Ramsay’s The London, Tenjune, Gabriela’s and Ayhan’s Fish Kebab.
“As evidenced by these civil rights violation lawsuits, sexual harassment claims remain a significant problem for restaurants in New York,” civil rights lawyer Perecman said. “Employees, however, have other options than to stick it out and accept the abuse.”
A civil rights violation complaint against the Oak Room and Chef Hara was also lodged with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).