Local Case Update: Central Park’s Other Famed Restaurant Endures Federal Sexual Harassment Investigation
Within the last three years, the federal government has investigated both of Central Park’s landmark restaurants, based upon allegations of sexual harassment. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is now investigating the famous Boathouse Restaurant, located at the edge of the Lake on the east side of the Park, for allegedly permitting a hostile workplace environment to persist for several of its female employees.
According to a recent article in the New York Daily News, the allegations include claims that female workers were fondled by a manager, were pressured by their supervisors to submit to sexual acts, and were forced to view sexually explicit photographs while at work. The Boathouse Restaurant has also had problems recently in dealing with a union organizing campaign and an investigation by the City for the under-reporting of restaurant revenues. The restaurant operates on public land under a contract with the City.
The Boathouse Restaurant is not the only Central Park eatery to run into problems with the government, when it comes to workplace sexual harassment. Tavern on the Green, the famed restaurant located just inside the Park at West 66th Street, settled an EEOC-initiated lawsuit for $2.2 Million and an array of remedial relief. The Tavern investigation involved harassment allegations of groping and inappropriate sexual comments toward female employees similar to those in the more recent Boathouse investigation. The large settlement figure probably played a role, at least in part, in Tavern’s closing the following year in December 2009.
As evidenced by these investigations, sexual harassment claims remain a significant problem for businesses of all sizes in New York whether they are filed with the EEOC, State or City agencies or the Courts. Nevertheless, employers can take several practical, cost-effective steps to help limit their exposure to costly harassment investigations. To discuss steps your business can take to reduce the likelihood and impact of workplace harassment claims, call our law firm at (718) 275-6700 or email us to arrange a consultation to find out how our attorneys can help you.