EN Japanese Brasserie and Celebrity Chef Face Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Variety has reported that the manager of EN Japanese Brasserie, the acclaimed restaurant in New York City’s West Village, is suing the restaurant, owner Reika Yo, and its celebrity chef. Mayumi Bardiovsky, an employee at EN since 2009, filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court, alleging that Chef Abe Hiroki has been sexually harassing her for years. In her complaint, Bardiovsky claims that Hiroki’s conduct violated New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) that prohibits gender discrimination in the workplace, which includes sexual harassment. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/chapter-1.page#8-101

Bardiovsky began working at EN in 2009 as a runner, becoming a server in 2010. In January 2017, she became the manager of the restaurant. In her complaint, Bardiovsky lays out what she believes to be an ongoing pattern of harassment by Hiroki that worsened when she became the manager. Bardiovsky claims that much of the offensive conduct by Hiroki was verbal. He allegedly spoke to her in Japanese because she was the only employee who could understand his words. The harassment was also, at times, physical.

New York City Human Rights Law Prohibits Sexual Harassment

NYCHRL prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. It is considered to be a form of gender-based discrimination. The New York City Human Rights Commission states that sexual harassment involves unwelcome conduct that can be verbal, physical or in writing. Such behavior is unlawful when it meets the following criteria:

“Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is sexual harassment when such conduct unreasonably interferes with job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

Examples of conduct that may create such an environment are: making lewd comments, telling jokes, sexual or romantic innuendo, displaying pictures, pressuring someone for dates, making sexual gestures, sexual touching, talking about a person’s body or looks.

Complaint Details Sexual Harassment

The Plaintiff’s list of allegations includes the following acts by Hiroki:

  • Unwelcome conversations of a sexual nature
  • Allusions to sex toys
  • Propositions to sleep at his apartment
  • Suggestions that they travel alone
  • Telling her he looks at her backside
  • Touching her backside
  • Confessing to looking at her rear end
  • Forcibly hugging her while simulating a sex act
  • Calling her names in Japanese that refer to her in unattractive terms.

Hiroki allegedly harassed Bardiovsky in Japanese most of the time so no other employees would understand him. In the complaint, however, Bardiovsky says that the bar manager speaks some Japanese and can corroborate particular claims. The complaint also alleges Hiroki began acting outwardly hostile toward her after she received her promotion to restaurant manager calling her “ugly” in front of vendors, yelling and pointing his finger at her. Bardiovsky states in her complaint that his behavior makes it difficult “to do her job as manager.”

It seems that the allegations Bardiovsky set forth, if true, constitute unlawful sexual harassment/gender discrimination under NYCHRL. The conduct was physical and verbal and was unwelcome. Was it so pervasive or severe that it created a hostile work environment for Bardiovsky? If the case does not settle before it goes to trial, it will be up to a jury to decide.

The complaint seeks an unspecified amount of damages for emotional pain, humiliation and suffering, loss of past and future earnings, as well as punitive damages.

Contact Us

If you are sexually harassed at your job contact Leeds Brown Law P.C., employment discrimination attorneys representing clients in New York City, Long Island and the surrounding metropolitan area. Our lawyers help men and women who experience gender discrimination and other forms of illegal harassment while on the job. We have spent years assisting workers to file claims with the New York City Commission on Human Rights as well as civil lawsuits. When you want advocates, who work tirelessly to receive the best possible results for clients, call Leeds Brown.

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The complaint: