News » Workplace

World-Famous NYC Steak House Pays $600K to Workers for Male-on-Male Harassment

by Sam Hananel
Thursday Nov 15, 2012

WASHINGTON - A tony New York steakhouse that was the site of a legendary mafia murder in the 1980s is paying $600,000 to settle claims that a male manager sexually harassed nearly two dozen of the restaurant's male waiters, federal officials said Thursday.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Sparks Steak House failed to stop the manager's abuse of 22 waiters over a nearly eight-year period. In its lawsuit, the agency accused the manager of groping the buttocks of male waiters, making lewd sexual comments to them and attempting to touch their genitals.

"The severe sexual harassment at Sparks ran rampant for too long," said EEOC lawyer Robert Rose.

The harassment continued even after many of the waiters complained to other managers, the agency said. Some of the victims who spoke up suffered retaliation, being assigned more difficult work or even being suspended.

Steve Cetta, vice president of the midtown Manhattan restaurant, said the steakhouse has not admitted any wrongdoing and decided to settle the case to avoid further legal costs and negative publicity.

"It creates agony and frustration and we just wanted to move on," Cetta said.

The popular restaurant is known for its prime sirloin and extensive wine list. But in 1985, it was the site of an infamous mafia hit when organized-crime chief Paul Castellano and bodyguard Thomas Billotti were shot to death outside the restaurant on orders from John Gotti. The murder led Gotti to become head of the Gambino crime family.

While the overall number of sexual harassment charges at the EEOC has decreased over the past few years, the percentage filed by men has risen to about 16 percent of all charges. The agency has been filing more lawsuits involving male victims, saying it wants to send a message that such behavior is unacceptable and unlawful.

The settlement with Sparks requires the restaurant to establish a hotline for reporting discrimination, distribute an updated sexual harassment policy and conduct anti-discrimination training for employees.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


  • Oh Jed said:, 2012-11-15 18:25:37

    Me thinks the family would be forced to acknowledge a family members preditory prediliction for penis if they admitted there was wrongdoing in their family establishment.

  • gdhamf, 2012-11-16 04:09:07

    Hell, I managed a place and one of the female servers griped me every chance she got. The hitch made going to work a real "pain in my ASS"!

  • Oh Jed said:, 2012-11-16 15:11:15

    That hitch musta had the hots for you. Lol.

  • BlondieSL, 2013-01-14 13:58:58

    Oh we all have those kinds of stories. I’m a VERY openly Gay "mature" man. Last week, I had McDonald’s for breaky. It turns out, one of the woman there "likes me". HUH? First, I’m not a spring chicken, if ya gits me drift. Secondly, I do NOT hide who I am! Everyone knows. How does she not? Sheesh! LOL of course, now I’m being teased at work about it... that part is all good, because MOST of the people I work with are really great. They never make actual negative comments at all. In fact, one of the newer guys, admitted to me, not long ago, that he was homophobic. But that my personality and working with me has changed his mind. Honestly, I like that. Small steps boys and girls... small steps! LOL :)

  • gdhamf, 2013-01-16 13:31:26

    I hate auto correct on the kindle hitch=bitch, and griped=groped

Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook