Former Employee Sues Posh NYC Steakhouse Over Sexual Harassment Claims

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A former waitress at a posh New York City steakhouse is claiming that she was sexually harassed and asked to do lewd acts by her superiors.

Brenna Gonzalez was 18 years old when she started working at the go-to section of Smith & Wollensky, a well-known steakhouse on Third Avenue in 2018. She was then immediately “targeted” by her male co-workers and customers, said NBC News.

Her lawsuit, which was filed Monday (June 15) in Manhattan Supreme Court, stated that she was groped “approximately three times per shift” by her colleagues and customers. Gonzalez’s managers also withheld her tips until she did “sexualized performance,” such as pouring water on her white uniform, said the New York Daily News.

Gonzales claimed that management ignored her when she approached them about the allegations. On one instance, a regular customer kissed her without warning; the management plainly said to “keep letting him do it,” added the outlet, citing a statement from the lawsuit.

“Whenever Ms. Gonzalez endured egregious sexual harassment in her workplace, management looked the other way. Ms. Gonzalez turned to management for help and they ignored her,” said legal counsel Eric Baum.

The lawyer added that Smith & Wollensky “showed no remorse” and took “no disciplinary actions” against the individuals who were harassing Gonzalez.

“Instead, they forced Ms. Gonzalez out of the job she was relying on to help pay her way through college,” Baum said.

Restaurant spokeswoman Allison Good told the New York Daily News that they investigated the incident and found them to be “completely without merit” at the time it was brought up “months ago.

A co-worker told Gonzalez she was harassed because she looked like a “schoolgirl” and even pinned the blame on her for “riling everyone up.”

Gonzalez said she was also threatened when a dishwasher left a note, telling her he knew what train she rode and at what stop she gets off. The dishwasher also said that he wanted “to ride the train with her.”

She took the matter to the management and told them she felt unsafe, but Gonzalez was still scheduled on the same shift as the dishwasher.

Daily Mail reported that on one occasion, a manager told Gonzalez to take drugs or drink alcohol so that she would “smile more.”

Gonzalez is seeking an unspecified amount in damages for harassment. She also seeks that the restaurant trains its employees on sexual harassment prevention and “overhaul” its policies on handling complaints.

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