Former Sardi’s server sues iconic NYC restaurant for sexual harassment
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A former Sardi’s server is suing the iconic Manhattan restaurant, charging she was sexually harassed during her eight-month stint there and fired in retaliation when she complained, a federal court suit alleges.
The plaintiff, Yesenia Diaz, now 29, started working at the 44th Street eatery in the heart of the Times Square district in January 2017, Manhattan federal court documents state.
The legendary Broadway haunt, best known for nine decades of framed celebrity caricatures adorning its walls, was the hangout of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Arthur Miller and Barbra Streisand.
Leonard Lyons, the fabled Post columnist, is said to have table-hopped every night, collecting anecdotes. Robert Preston held court at the bar after performances of “The Music Man.”
But it was hell for Diaz, whose troubles allegedly began two months after being hired when general manager Sean Ricketts “touched [her] lower waist and shoulders,” the suit alleges.
Ricketts “had a habit” of doing this while whispering in her ear, the suit says. Ricketts “clearly saw” Diaz “was uncomfortable with his advances,” yet continued to let his hands roam for months, the suit alleges.
Diaz said she “realized that her job was on the line if she did not acquiesce to his demands” for too-close conversations, the complaint says.
In May, emboldened male coworkers began to torment her, according to the suit and Diaz’s attorney, Christopher J. Berlingieri.
“The male employees took checks off her tables to make her think she was ‘losing it’ and sabotage her job, they mocked her and made catcalls when she walked up the stairs and even burned her work shirt uniform,” Berlingieri told The Post. “My client complained about all this to management and nothing was done.”
The suit alleges one senior male server touched Diaz’s buttocks in May but when she complained to Ricketts, the general manager did nothing. When the male server, “Moe,” realized Diaz complained to Ricketts, he called her a “stupid bitch,” the suit charges.
Diaz also complained about the sexual harassment to Sardi’s kitchen manager, “Orlando,” according to court papers.
On Aug. 25, 2017, Sardi’s “retaliated” by firing Diaz, the suit says.
The suit seeks uspecified damages for mental distress, anxiety, flashbacks, “aches, pains and sleepless nights,”
“This sort of thing shouldn’t happen at any restaurant, let alone at Sardi’s,” Diaz’s attorney Berlingieri told The Post. “This happened in the pre-#MeToo era, in a time where this sort of conduct by management unfortunately may have been acceptable.”
Diaz said through her attorney: “I don’t want them to get away with what they did to me at Sardi’s, it’s not right. “
The defendants did not return messages.
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