Female workers sue McCormick & Schmick’s over lewd behaviour

BOSTON — Female kitchen workers at the McCormick & Schmick’s seafood restaurant in downtown Boston were subjected to constant groping and lewd comments from male supervisors and co-workers, and their complaints to the company were routinely ignored, five women said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit highlights the abuse and harassment women in low-wage hospitality positions routinely face, even as allegations of sexual misconduct roil white-collar industries like film, media and politics, said Sophia Hall, an attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, which represents the women.

“These are positions that society often overlooks,” she said. “These women are particularly vulnerable, with limited English and no access to an effective reporting procedure. They suffered daily and in humiliating ways.”

Fabiana Santos, who worked as a prep cook at the restaurant, detailed the lewd comments and unwanted touching she endured from a male dishwasher at a news conference Tuesday.

“The disgusting things that happened to me made me feel dirty,” she said in Portuguese, speaking through a translator. “And when I got home, I didn’t even want my kids to touch me.”

Marta Romero said a sous chef frequently groped and harassed her when she worked there as a dishwasher. She said she felt powerless to do anything about it because the chef was her supervisor.

“I want other women to know that whatever type of work they do or who they are, they’re not powerless,” she said in Spanish through an interpreter. “They are powerful and have legal rights.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they speak publicly, which all five women have done.

Representatives for the Landry’s Inc., the Houston-based restaurant, casino and hotel operator that owns McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, Inc., didn’t respond to emails and calls seeking comment.

The women, most of whom have since left the restaurant chain, say they reported the lewd behaviour to supervisors but were routinely ignored.

They eventually brought their complaints to the company’s human resources department, which took some disciplinary actions against male employees but denied the conduct amounted to sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit.

The women then took their case to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in 2015 ruled there was reasonable cause to believe the company discriminated against the women on the basis of their gender, according to the lawsuit.

Rachel Smit, another attorney for the women, said federal agency finding allows the women to proceed with their suit, which was filed in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston and seeks unspecified damages.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

46 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday in Alberta

Province has completed more than 500,000 COVID-19 tests

Red Deer RCMP downtown detachment to reopen front counter service

Police say new health protection measures will be in place

Two suspects arrested in connection to Parkland Mall shooting

Two suspects connected to the June 30 shooting at Parkland Mall have… Continue reading

High unemployment, $343B deficit projected in Liberals’ fiscal snapshot

Slow economic growth forecast until at least the end of 2021

Focus returns to Red Deer hospital’s expansion

Recommendations for project must be finalized

CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos speed up name review as sponsor backlash builds

CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos speed up name review as sponsor backlash builds

Almost 35,000 people pegged for removal from Canada evade border agency

Almost 35,000 people pegged for removal from Canada evade border agency

Ban federal use of facial-recognition tools, groups urge Trudeau government

Ban federal use of facial-recognition tools, groups urge Trudeau government

`A hot mess’: Americans face testing delays as virus surges

`A hot mess’: Americans face testing delays as virus surges

Feds charge Florida man, sons with selling fake virus cure

Feds charge Florida man, sons with selling fake virus cure

Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak

Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak

Canada’s chief medical officers plan some downtime after months of hard work

Canada’s chief medical officers plan some downtime after months of hard work

Feds promise recovery will focus on people hurt most by COVID-19 economic crisis

Feds promise recovery will focus on people hurt most by COVID-19 economic crisis

Most Read