Waitresses Sue Café Habana, Alleging Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Prominent Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit against Cafe Habana Featured in New York Daily News Column

Waitresses sue Soho Hotspot Cafe Habana over alleged demands to show skin, look 'sexy'

On December 10, 2009, the New York Daily News reported on one of the year's most salacious sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation cases. The matter involves Soho restaurant Cafe Habana -- which is frequented by celebrities such as Owen Wilson, Josh Hartnett, and Serena Williams.

The lawsuit -- filed by attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum -- alleges that waitresses at the Manhattan hotspot were pressured to act and dress in a sexually provocative manner. Owner Sean Meenan asked his waitresses to pose for a pinup calendar that he sold to benefit his eco charity. The four waitresses suing the St. Elizabeth Street eatery complained that they lost hours and overtime pay for refusing to pose for the calendar and/or promote it. Three of the plaintiffs allege that they got fired after they complained to management about the 'antics' of the restaurant's managers and owner -- this retaliation alone could be grounds for legal action.

Frank Accused of Witholding Pasta; Matsuri Also Hit With Lawsuit

Frank Accused of Witholding Pasta; Matsuri Also Hit With Lawsuit

This June 11th article from New York Magazine - Restaurants discusses case launched by attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum of Joseph & Kirschenbaum against a New York City restaurant for wage and hour violations. The class action suit was initially filed on behalf of two servers at restaurants owned by Frank Prisinzano: Frank and Supper.

The suit alleges that wait staff at Prisinzano’s restaurants had not only been denied appropriate overtime and minimum wage payments but also may not have received paychecks at all. Allegations also suggest that the waiters were forced to give up a share of their nightly tips. 5% of their tip money was funneled to an unnamed entity that the plaintiffs believe may have been the restaurant’s manager or even the owner himself. Prisinzano’s third restaurant, Lil’ Frankie's, may soon find itself embroiled in legal action as well, for similar wage and hour practices.

The New York Restaurants Magazine piece also briefly discusses another Joseph & Kirschenbaum wage and hour lawsuit against the restaurant Matsuri, which has been accused of sharing wait staff tips with managers.

Ex-Waiter Serves Tavern With Tip-Sharing Lawsuit

This article from the New Jersey Journal discusses another wage and hour violation case filed by the prolific Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum.

The restaurant under the gun this time is a New Jersey establishment, the Light House Tavern. The plaintiff, a 35 year old waiter named Fernando Comas, claims he was fired after management learned that he had been contemplating legal action against the Light House Tavern for wage and hour violations.

Among the complaints alleged by Comas:

  • The restaurant did not pay the statutory mandated rate for overtime.
  • Waiters' tips were garnished illegally and given to dishwashers and managers.
  • Waiters were illegally forced to use tip money to pay to wash their uniforms.

Kirschenbaum, who has developed a reputation as an unstinting guardian of beleaguered restaurant workers in New York City, has now increased his range to New Jersey.