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星期二, 3月 22, 2016

ROUTE 9 DINER IN HADLEY AGREES TO PAY UP TO $200,000 TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF FEMALE EMPLOYEES

ROUTE 9 DINER IN HADLEY AGREES TO PAY UP TO $200,000 TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF FEMALE EMPLOYEES
AG Alleged Mistreatment and Humiliation of Female Employees by Ownership, Management and Kitchen Staff

            NORTHAMPTON – Several former owners and managers of the now-closed Route 9 Diner in Hadley have agreed to pay up to $200,000 to resolve allegations that they engaged in and allowed years of regular and repeated sexual harassment of female employees, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The payment includes compensation to the victims.

“We allege that for more than a decade, waitresses at this diner were regularly subjected to harassment, degradation, mistreatment, and humiliation based on their gender, creating an unbearable and hostile work environment,” AG Healey said. “Our office will not tolerate anyone being sexually harassed in the workplace, and we will continue to hold accountable businesses that allow these kinds of discriminatory practices to occur.”

Under the terms of the consent judgment, entered today in Hampshire Superior Court, TC LLC (d/b/a Route 9 Diner), former owners Christopher Karabetsos and Argiris Sideris, and former managers Dimitrios Demos and Steven Kwak, will pay $112,000 to resolve allegations that they failed to protect the waitresses from harassment even though they knew of the behavior and had the ability to remediate it. The remaining $88,000 is suspended pending the defendants’ compliance with the other terms of the agreement.

The consent judgment also resolves a related case brought by one of the former waitresses at the diner. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts represents that waitress and assisted the AG’s Office during the investigation and settlement of the case.

The majority of the settlement funds will be used to compensate female employees of the diner, many of whom suffered physical harm, emotional distress, and loss of tips and wages due to the pervasive sexual harassment and discrimination they experienced during their employment at the diner.

The consent judgment also requires Karabetsos or Sideris to take certain steps if they reopen a diner at a different location or open any other food-service establishment in Massachusetts, including posting notice of the consent judgment, adhering to comprehensive anti-discrimination policies and procedures, providing staff members with training on anti-discrimination laws, and hiring a human resources or equal employment opportunity consultant to monitor compliance with the consent judgment.

In March 2015, the AG’s Office filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) alleging that beginning as early as 2004, TC LLC and certain employees engaged in a continuous pattern and practice of sexual harassment of female employees of the diner, routinely subjecting them to mistreatment and humiliation in violation of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. According to the complaint, the female employees were regularly subjected to sexualized commentary, cat-calling, and unwanted touching and sexual advances by the cooks at the diner.

The complaint also alleges that the waitresses reported the harassment on multiple occasions, but were told that they were easily replaceable and lucky to have jobs at the diner. The diner’s owners and managers allegedly participated in the sexual harassment themselves and regularly belittled and verbally abused waitresses at the diner. The complaint further alleges the diner’s male staff was instead was given preferential and better treatment.

The Route 9 Diner was a 24-hour diner located on Russell Street that had a host staff and wait staff predominately made up of young women, many of whom attend nearby high schools or colleges. For many of these women, the diner was their first experience working, particularly at a restaurant. The diner closed shortly after the AG’s Office filed its complaint.

This matter was handled by Genevieve Nadeau, Deputy Division Chief of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, and Paralegal Paola Ozuna, also of the AG’s Civil Rights Division, along with Kristen Salera and Shannon Roark of AG Healey’s Investigations Division.