Two female former workers have hit the Rosebud Restaurants group with yet another discrimination action, alleging management at the restaurant group’s nine Chicago area restaurants subjected them and other women employed by the group to “pervasive and systematic sexual harassment and discriminatory practices,” including obscene name-calling, groping of their bodies, exposure to hard-core pornography in the work place, catcalling, and repeated sexual overtures and invitations from managers to engage in sex acts, among others.
Further, the women assert the company’s upper management and human resources staff do little to nothing to rein in those responsible, often allegedly defending them and declining to intervene when management allegedly retaliates against women who complain about the practices.
On Aug. 10, two recently terminated Rosebud employees, identified in the complaint as plaintiffs Cristina Cortez and Kim Kininmonth, filed suit in Chicago federal court against Chicago-based Rosebud Restaurants Inc. The complaint alleges six counts against the restaurant chain and its management, including discrimination on the basis of sex and national origin and retaliation.
The plaintiffs are requesting a range of damages including lost wages and benefits, as well as awards of compensatory and punitive damages. They have requested a jury trial.
The plaintiffs are represented in the action by attorney Rafael E. Lazaro, of the firm of Pavia & Lazaro LLC, of Chicago.
The complaint notes this is not the first time allegations of discrimination and the fostering of a hostile workplace have surfaced against Rosebud.
In 2014, former Rosebud CEO Joseph Taylor sued claiming he had been retaliated against “after he opposed discrimination and harassment in the workplace.”
In 2005 and 2010, two women also sued Rosebud asserting they had been discriminated against after becoming pregnant.
And a class of African-American citizens sued the chain in 2013 alleging the company’s hiring practices were racially discriminatory.
“The actors/discriminators who discriminated against the African-American applicants and females in the above cases are the same actors/discriminators who discriminated against plaintiffs,” the women wrote in the most recent complaint.
According to the complaint filed Aug. 10, Cortez had worked as a manager at several Rosebud restaurants from 2008-2009, while Kininmonth worked as a server at Rosebud’s Schaumburg restaurant from 2007-2008.
Both reported receiving unwanted and repeated sexual overtures and harassment from male managers and others.
Cortez, for instance, detailed allegations of inappropriate and harassing behavior from a number of male managers against female employees, including rubbing against their bodies, making “humping motions” near them, and grabbing “their buttocks and other body parts.”
She said she became the victim of the behavior personally, when a male general manager allegedly asked her sexually demeaning questions, propositioned her during a business dinner, hid sex toys in closets for her to find and laughed at her reaction when she did, and kept pornographic magazines in a desk shared by all managers, among other alleged actions.
Cortez alleged the general manager also made demeaning racial remarks about Cortez’s Mexican national origins, allegedly referring to Mexicans as “pigs,” and stating “the Mexican pigs would eat food out of the garbage.”
Cortez alleges she was fired shortly after reporting these behaviors and actions to human resources, and was replaced by “a white male.”
Kininmonth also detailed similar behaviors and actions, saying she and other female employees were often berated and screamed at by male managers, who would often hurl obscenities at them, often referring to them by vulgar words for female genitalia.
And she said male managers would often make suggestive or overtly sexual remarks to female workers.
“Supervisors would make such comments as wanting to see female employees in their bikinis, ‘wanting to (have sex) on the counter,’ ‘your ass looks nice,’ ‘I like that top’ and ‘I can see down your shirt,’” the complaint states.
Kininmonth said she also believed management was not “paying servers and other employees their tips as required,” and asked other servers and bussers to retain pay stubs as proof.
She complained about the behavior to management, but no action was taken, she said.
She asserts in the complaint she, too, was fired shortly after complaining.