A popular Harlem restaurant has been hit with a $6 million lawsuit alleging multiple instances of sexual harassment.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Corner Social by a former server, Alaya Jordan, who worked at the restaurant from about May 2015 to June 2017, according to the New York Daily News. According to court documents, Jordan was harassed multiple times by different employees, including a manager and the restaurant’s chef.
Jordan claims that Corner Social’s chef repeatedly asked her out on dates and asked about being massaged, informing the server that he liked “happy endings,” according to court documents.
And that allegedly wasn’t the worst of it. Reports the Daily News:
In February 2017, one of Jordan’s managers “suddenly and violently grabbed [Jordan’s] hair and said, ‘I just wanted to see if it was still long enough to pull on.’” ...
Several months later, a waiter “began frequently touching or rubbing” her back and said, “Why don’t you kiss me?” When she told him to stop, “he would get visibly upset, and once he angrily shoved plaintiff during working hours,” the suit maintains.
The owner of Corner Social, Anahi Angelone, was notified of the harassment, according to the suit, but nothing was done about it.
Angelone is also facing heat at her other establishment, Angel of Harlem, which was accused last month of racially profiling black patrons and falsely accusing them of dining and dashing.
Sexual harassment is rampant in the restaurant industry. According to one report from late last year, restaurant workers filed more sexual harassment claims than any other workers in any other industry. As many as 90 percent of women and 70 percent of men working in restaurants have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment.
The gender imbalance at these establishments contributes to the pervasive culture of harassment. As a recent Harvard Business Review article noted, men make up the majority of management and top-earning roles at American restaurants, while women often occupy the lower rungs of the ladder. This power and economic imbalance gives women who are restaurant workers few options in confronting harassing behavior and leaves them open to exploitation and harassment. This is especially true for women of color.
“Industries in which women of color workers are strongly represented are also particular hotbeds of sexual harassment and assault,” Collier Meyerson wrote for The Nation, citing another study (pdf) on workplace harassment in the fast-food industry that found 33 percent of black women and 32 percent of Latinas working in fast food had experienced sexual harassment. Meanwhile, 25 percent of white women reported experiencing sexual harassment at those jobs.
Corner Social owner Angelone has yet to give a statement on the lawsuit or the allegations.