NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans bar Bamboula’s has reached a settlement after former employee Julianna Vasquez filed a lawsuit claiming one of the bar's managers repeatedly sexually harassed her.
Vasquez was represented by civil rights attorney William Most and worked with the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee in connection with the sexual harassment claim.
Vasquez said in a July 16 press release that a recent rash of allegations against celebrity chefs and restaurant owners have shed more light into the restaurant industry, where she said sexual harassment is often swept under the rug and often explained with the statement “that’s a part of the industry, honey."
The significance of this victory could mark a turning point in the restaurant industry, accoridng to Most. “I hope that Ms. Vasquez' victory encourages other hospitality workers to stand up for their legal right to a workplace free of sexual harassment," he told the Louisiana Record.
Attorney William Most Law Office of William Most
Vasquez started working for Bamboula’s in June 2017. In her lawsuit, she claims the manager who sexually harassed her repeatedly “touched her inappropriately and made comments about her appearance.”
Vasquez said she reported this behavior to the general manager for Bamboula’s, Jennifer Collins, but Collins allegedly did nothing. As a result, Vasquez said she decided to quit her job at Bamboula’s.
Vasquez filed a sexual harassment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and in February, she marched to Bamboula’s with the committee, of which she is a member.
According to the press release, when the group showed up at Bamboula’s, Collins “responded by further harassing Ms. Vasquez by making derogatory statments about her in front of the people gathered at the establishment.
The settlement will require Bamboula’s to provide sexual harassment training for all its managers. The press release said the committee “has the right to facilitate a workshop for Bamboula’s staff regarding sexual harassment education and rights.”
Most said in the release that “Ms. Vasquez’ story should serve as a warning to every manager in New Orleans: employees have rights, and sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”
Vasquez said in the release “Sexual harassment and abuse of workers’ rights is rampant in the service industry and I encourage others to use what power and voice you have to stand up against it. It will not be easy. But this is how we can create change in this industry."
The committee said in the press release “Together we can collectively work to rid our industry of sexual harassment. We seek to build solidarity between workers, because only united can we create accountability and demand better working conditions.”
“Workers suffering from sexual harassment often feel like they are alone, or that they have no way to make their voice heard," Most told the Louisiana Record. “Ms. Vasquez and women like her have created a path for others to follow."