Restaurant Owners Face Sex Discrimination Suit

The Cipriani family, owner of several ritzy New York City-area restaurant, has been sued for sex bias. The lawsuit, filed by the state, alleges that women were denied lucrative and managerial positions at the restaurants, and were instead relegated to low-paying jobs as cashiers and coat-checkers. Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer said that the suit is just one element of a larger analysis of sex discrimination in the restaurant industry.

Servers at Harry Cipriani, one of the restaurants named in the suit, can make triple-digit salaries. A recent audit showed that one server made more than $1,835 a week, which would amount to more than $90,000 a year. The coat-check and cashier positions offered to women pay only $13 an hour, and are less likely to lead to managerial positions. Spitzter commented, “This type of invidious behavior creates a glass ceiling within the restaurant industry. Women are being denied lucrative jobs and a stepping stone to more prestigious positions. By targeting this and other restaurants, we intend to send a message that this behavior is unacceptable.”

According to court documents, the manager for the Cipriani Family’s “Harry Cipriani” and “Downtown” allegedly told female applicants “We don’t have any girls in any of our places.” The Cipriani’s lawyer made a public statement that, “As a policy, Cipriani International does not discriminate against anyone.”


New York Times - August 25, 1999

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