The Colony Diner in East Meadow is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleges the diner’s owners and male employees physically and verbally harassed female employees, and retaliated against them when they complained.
The lawsuit, which was filed in June 2 in federal court, claims that since at least 2015, co-owners George and Thomas Strifas would make sexual comments about female employees, ask them questions about their sex lives, and touch them inappropriately and without consent — things that never happened to male employees.
The EEOC claims that Colony Diner, located on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow, violated the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC also is seeking back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the employees, and is also seeking injunctive relief against the business to prevent future discrimination.
“A hostile work environment created by the employer’s owners or high-level managers can be especially devastating to harassment victims,” said Jeffrey Burstein, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “And under federal employment discrimination law, when the owner, CEO or president of a company is proven to have created the hostile work environment, the company will almost always be liable.”
The lawsuit claims that, in addition to harassment from the owners, the Strifases failed to stop other male employees from touching and verbally harassing female employees.
In addition, the lawsuit claims that when female employees complained about their treatment, George Strifas retaliated by changing their shifts and assigning them to the sections of the restaurant where they would get the fewest tips.
The diner’s lawyer, Jamie Felsen, told Newsday that the accusations were untrue. “They are merely allegations which Colony Diner denies, and which will be vigorously defended in court,” Felsen said.
Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, when the owner, CEO, or president of a company is proven to have created a hostile work environment, the company will almost always be liable.
The women involved with the lawsuit were or continue to be employed as servers or hostesses from May 2015 to the current employees.