ROUSES POINT — Seven women were awarded $35,000 in damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against Angelo’s Pizza & Grill and Kefalas Enterprises.
The former owners of the Rouses Point family restaurant subjected seven female employees to sexual harassment from January 2005 through September 2012, according to a news release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The commission exists to enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace.
The restaurant’s owners, Kostantinos Raptis, Nikolaos Raptis and Andrew Xenos, groped the women’s breasts and buttocks and made sexually explicit propositions and comments, including requests for sexual acts, the release said.
In one case, one of the owners forced a female employee into a back storage room and shut the door, turned off the lights and touched her breasts and fondled her, the commission said.
Other incidents involved one of the restaurant’s owners holding a cucumber or orange traffic cone between his legs to simulate sex, the release said.
The agency further said that Kefalas Enterprises fired two of the women after learning that they complained about the sexual harassment, according to the release.
‘COURAGE TO COME FORWARD’
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in August 2011 after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement, the release said.
Angelo’s Pizza & Grill is currently owned by Kostas and Alessandra Kefalas of Kefalas Enterprises.
Kefalas Enterprises was added to the lawsuit as a successor employer in January of 2013.
“The victims in this case have shown great strength in standing up to right the wrongs perpetrated against them by their former employer,” Commission Senior Trial Attorney Judith Biltekoff said.
“They live and work in a small town in upstate New York where jobs are at a premium. It took courage to come forward at the risk of losing their jobs. We are pleased that they will be compensated and that future harassment will be prevented.”
Although Kostantinos, Nikolaos and Xenos are no longer affiliated with the restaurant, Angelo’s Pizza and Kefalas Enterprises are both bound by a three-year consent decree, as part of the lawsuit settlement, the release said.
The decree, approved by Federal District Court Judge Norman A. Mordue, prevents both businesses, its principals and any future businesses it may purchase or operate from engaging in future sexual harassment or retaliation, the commission said.
Kefalas must put also mechanisms in place to protect future employees from sexual harassment, the release said.
For more information on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, go to www.eeoc.gov.
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