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Jury finds Theater District chef liable for sexual harassment

A hostile workplace environment can do more damage than most people realize. Victims of sexual harassment often suffer physically, emotionally and mentally after harassment. These are injuries that do not heal on their own. However, any employee who is victimized by the actions of a sexual harasser can regain control of his or her life by holding the harasser responsible through legal action.

This is what a one-time bartender recently did against a former employer. The 28-year-old woman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the chef of Da Marino Ristorante Italiano, a restaurant in Manhattan's Theater District popular with celebrities.

Federal jurors decided to hold the 52-year-old chef accountable for sexual assault, sexual harassment and promoting a hostile work environment. The bartender, a Russian immigrant, was awarded $2.5 million in damages.

The woman's 2013 lawsuit alleged two incidents. In the first in May 2010, the chef allegedly trapped the woman inside the office of his restaurant and touched her inappropriately. When the woman managed to escape, the chef allegedly warned her that she had no rights because she was an immigrant.

In the second incident, the chef allegedly threatened to kill her at his apartment when she rejected more unwanted advances.

The woman's attorney says the emotional nature of her testimony during the trial was convincing enough to jurors that they voted to find in her favor.

Every employee, regardless of race, nationality or sexuality deserves to work without unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate comments from bosses, managers or coworkers. A sexual harassment lawsuit may not erase what has happened, but it can help protect a victim from harassment.

Source: New York Post, "Ex-bartender wins $2.5M in sex assault suit against chef," Julia Marsh, May 6, 2014

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