Sushi Den: Investigator discredits female employees’ discrimination complaint
Sushi Den appeared in FOX31 Denver's Restaurant Report Card series, racking up the eighth most fines for health code violations in Denver in 2012.
DENVER — Four women filed a class-action complaint against a popular Denver sushi restaurant this week, accusing their employer of both harassment and discrimination.
The unmanned women say their bosses at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den, joint restaurants in Denver’s South Pearl neighborhood, have not offered fair opportunities for advancement for female employees, have humiliated female employees in front of customers and have also sexually harassed female employees.
The restaurant’s management vehemently denied those claims through their lawyer Friday morning.
“A very small number of (Sushi Den’s) many employees are making these allegations,” attorney Erin Webber wrote in a statement. “And these allegations are being made even after an independent third-party investigator reviewed the facts and found allegations of systemic discrimination or harassment against female employees to be unsubstantiated.”
Earlier reports suggested the women filed a federal class-action complaint Thursday, but lawyers for the Sushi Den disputed those reports, saying the complaint was classified as a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and had not been filed as a federal-level lawsuit.
Paula Greisen, one of the attorneys for the four women who filed the complaint, confirmed that assertion, saying that a complaint must be lodged with the EEOC before a lawsuit can be filed.
The complaint filed with the EEOC by the women’s attorneys provides several specific examples of discrimination and harassment that they say their clients faced while employed by Sushi Den.
- The owners are accused of establishing a history of failing to hire qualified female candidates. If and when females are hired, the complaint accuses the owners of passing them over for promotions.
- Female servers were allegedly publicly humiliated on a frequent basis if they made a mistake, and forced to write “apology” emails to the entire staff explaining those mistakes.
- One of the owners allegedly told female employees they are not as smart as men, are overly emotional and lack common sense.
- On one occasion, two pregnant servers were allegedly told to hide their stomachs because they looked “sloppy.”
- One female server reported being a victim of continual comments about her breasts and buttocks, and informed that she would get better tips if she showed her breasts
- Several female servers reported being called names such as “whore” and “slut” and being touched in sexually-inappropriate ways.
Lawyers for the Sushi Den did not speak specifically to any of the allegations raised in the lawsuit, but instead said “Sushi Den looks forward to vigorously defending itself and disproving the claims that have been made.”