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Bartender gets $80k in sexual harassment lawsuit settlement

A bartender who was allegedly asked to dress “sexy” and go on dates with patrons by the boss of an Italian restaurant she worked for has been awarded US$80,000 following a sexual harassment lawsuit.

An Italian restaurant in Orlando, Florida, has awarded one of its former bartenders US$80,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit

The lawsuit was filed by federal agency the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

It accused Chris Christakos, otherwise known as Chris Christini, the owner of Christini’s Ristorante Italiano in Orlando, Florida, of encouraging a work environment in which “un­welcome, sexually charged comments and conduct was permissible and commonplace”.

The lawsuit alleged that the bartender was described to restaurant guests as available to date them, subjected to sexual innuendoes, and was told to dress “sexy” and “date-ready”. When she complained to management, she was fired.

Christini’s Ristorante Italiano has agreed to pay US$80,000 to settle the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, and will implement a number of measures to avoid harassment in the future.

Chris Christini and his employees will be required to undergo anti-harassment training, while management must develop an anti-harassment policy.

Also under the conditions of the settlement, Christini’s will hire an independent third-party to operate a telephone hotline for employees to report incidents of discrimination and harassment.

It must post a notice referencing the lawsuit, advising employees of their rights, and submit a confidential, anonymous workplace survey to the EEOC.

The bartender, meanwhile, will receive a positive written job reference from the restaurant.

Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC’s Miami District, said: “Federal law is abundantly clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Employers who ignore anti-discrimination laws should be on notice that they do so at their own peril.”

Discussions around sexual harassment in the on-trade have come to the fore in recent years.

According to a survey by UK union Unite, nine out 10 hospitality staff have experienced sexual harassment at work. In January this year, food journalist Victoria Stewart and PR specialist Hannah Norris launched the Hospitality Speaks campaign to address “toxic behaviour” in the hospitality industry.

Charity Drinkaware previously highlighted the “normalisation” of sexual harassment in bars and called for bystanders to challenge inappropriate behaviour.

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