Chef Anne Burrell et al Sued for Discrimination…
PX This has recently obtained the official Supreme Court docket (Index No. 108471-2008 Filed: March 23, 2009) for Susan Kendall Bradford, Jennifer Sue Lim, and Sarra Hennigan VS Anne Burrell, Centro Vinoteca, Sasha Muniak, and George Elkins alleging that the plaintiffs were subject to "discrimination" and "retaliation" in violation of the Human Rights Law. Among the plaintiffs complaints are the accusations that (former Centro Vinoteca chef) Anne Burell subjected the plaintiffs to persistent ridicule and disparagement, at times calling the plaintiffs (all formerly employed by Centro Vinoteca) such derogatory terms as "slutty," "saggy," "ho," "whore," and "stupid dumb whore… idiot." The plaintiffs also assert Burell persistently addressed them mockingly, commenting on their "cleavage," and "harassing" them with such offensive remarks as, "have you fucked that [co-worker] yet?" The plaintiffs further allege they were wrongfully terminated in "retaliation" for their "complaints" about Burrell.
The lawsuit charges that Elkins and Muniak were aware of these circumstances but failed to address the situation in a manner consistent with the NY State Human Rights Law.
According to the docket, the defendants Elkins and Muniak sought to dismiss these claims "as asserted by all plaintiffs, and as asserted by Hennigan against Burrell, …the Complaint is devoid of any allegation against either Muniak or Elkins or of any actionable comments made by Burrell."
"Additionally, plaintiffs have failed to adequately allege that they suffered adverse employment actions by Muniak and Elkins. As to the remaining allegations which do not involve Burrell, such allegations do not identify (1) who allegedly told Bradford to dress nicely for New Years’ Eve, (2) the manager who allegedly told Lim and Bradford to work during brunch, (3) who allegedly replaced Lim after she left for a few days when her mother passed away, (4) who fired Bradford and gave Bradford’s shifts to the new bartender, (5) who allegedly fired Lim, told her she was being suspended, or which manager never returned her calls, or (6) who allegedly terminated each of them Bradford or Lim, or constructively terminated Hennigan. And,to the extent my of the above-allegations constitute adverse employment actjons, plaintiffs have failed to allege individual liability against Muniak or Elkins under New York law. Their names a re absent from all such allegations, and plaintiffs do not specifically allege that Muniak or Elkins were personally involved in any of said conduct. In addition, those allegations made ‘collectively’ against defendants are similarly insufficient. Thus, plaintiffs failed to state causes of action against Muniak and Elkins."
The Supreme Court, however, disagreed and found, "the Complaint sufficiently alleges Muniak’s, Elkin’s and Burrell’s alleged managerial roles at Centro, their ability to hire and fire plaintiffs, their failures to sufficiently investigate the complaints made against Burrell, and the ultimate termination of Lim and Bradford, and constructive termination of Hennigan." Furthermore, "…plaintiffs’ complaint sufficiently alleges that defendants terminated or constructively terminated the plaintiffs after defendants received complaints concerning Burrell’s alleged discriminatory conduct."
As it currently stands, "dismissal… is denied." The case is presently ongoing.
For more information on Anne Burrell, read PX Me – The Sequel to PX This – Coming Soon in the Spring of 2012