Sexual Harassment in New York: Manhattan Bar Owner Settles

Settlement reached through NY Attorney General

Sexual harassment in New York allegedly took place in a Manhattan bar called Sweet & Vicious. It became the subject of a settlement brokered by the NY Attorney General’s Office.

The New York Post reported that New York Attorney General Letitia James and the restaurant owner Hakan Karamamahmutoglu reached a $500,000 settlement agreement.

Details of the case

Sixteen current and former workers are splitting the settlement amount.

  • A 16 month investigation by the AG’s office revealed the following allegations:
  • A work culture where customers harassed and threatened female bartenders
  • Customers threw glasses at them, threatened to stab, rape and beat the women
  • Management did not take action to protect them against customers’ threats
  • Male managers also sexually harassed the women through verbal communication and physical actions

Various alleged employment law violations

Racial slurs were also part of the alleged discrimination. One worker said the owner referred to her as “the Chinese one.” She wasn’t Chinese, but was too intimidated to defend herself. He called black security guards “gangsters.” What’s more, he referred to a Puerto Rican manager as a “terrorist” and “Puerto Rican trash.” He also used gay slurs.

The owner discriminated when hiring bartenders. He only wanted “tall, blonde, beautiful and sexy” women. He either marginalized or fired women who did not fit the description.

In addition to sexual harassment and hiring discrimination, overtime pay violations existed. Allegations included making women work overtime without pay, stealing their tips and forcing them to work eight hours straight without time for eating or bathroom breaks.

The employer’s defense argument

Karamahmutoglu said in his defense that “many of the claims are simply untrue, or grossly misleading.”

The settlement also resulted in the company’s agreement to improve its anti-sexual harassment and discrimination policies. The AG’s office will periodically monitor the company.

As an employer, do you have questions about NY sexual harassment or employment issues?

If you have questions or concerns, it is wise to get a legal opinion. You can consult with our attorneys at Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C. We are glad to provide you with experienced legal guidance. Call (718) 275-6500 to arrange an appointment.