Back in 2006 two former waitresses at the Sutton Place Bar & Restaurant sued their former employers for $15 million claiming they'd been fired for complaining about a policy there that essentially came down to "no fatties allowed." Now, after years of legal wrangling, the pair's suit has been given the go-ahead to go before a jury.
Kristen McRedmond, a bartender and waitress turned teacher, claims that between 2004 and 2006 she was repeatedly harassed by night manager Neil (Doe) Hanafy at the bar (now Midtown 1015). That abuse, which management did not appear to stop, allegedly included repeated touching of her breasts and buttocks, mixed with vulgar comments—and that's just to start. By the summer of 2006 she and co-worker Alexandria Lipton say they were called down to Hanafy's basement office and forced to get on a scale. When McRedmond strenuously objected she says Hanafy actually lifted her up and put her on to the scale.
In June 2006, according to the women, management went so far as to create a website listing the weight of each employee. And if they didn't get a weight from a scale, staff simply looked the waitresses up and down and made a guess, the lawsuit alleges.
The women claim they were later fired by the restaurant for complaining about their treatment (which they say also included being criticized for ordering fried foods). The restaurant claims the pair were actually fired for being late and breaking rules—but yesterday's decision calls the restaurant out on that. It points out that the disciplinary forms presented as evidence against the women had not been shown to either of them beforehand. That, according to the judge, "raises a suspicion as to the legitimacy and authenticity of the forms. Thus, an issue of fact exists whether defendants' proffered nondiscriminatory reasons [for firing the pair] were pretexual..." Or, as the women's lawyer Rosemarie Arnold put it to us, "The Appellate division recognized the bar's defense as quote-pretexual-unquote, which means in plain English that its freaking bullshit."
The defendants "acted like pigs," Arnold told the AP. "They treated these women like chattel, and they're going to face the jury now." Still, lawyers for the restaurant say they aren't too worried. "Anybody can make allegations, but we are confident we’ll prevail," attorney Joshua Mallin said.