DENVER -- A popular sushi spot in Denver is now facing complaints from female employees of discrimination and sexual harassment.
Four women filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying working at the restaurant took an emotional and financial toll.
Giovanna Henery worked at Sushi Den for almost two-and-a-half years before she says she had to quit her job. She says male employees were, “Calling me a whore, slut, or telling me I had AIDS.”
She says management did nothing when she brought up the issue. She also says she was told by management, “Women don't have common sense and that was why we weren't being treated the same way. We just kind of deserved it is what he was getting at. There wasn't a day that I didn't go in there not afraid.”
She also refers to a situation she calls, “the incident” in which a member of management was physical. She says, “He was trying to reprimand me and he did so by trying to put his hands on me and actually climb on top of me.”
Henery's attorneys Paula Greisen and Jennifer Bezoza filed on behalf of the four women. Greisen says, “We’ve been able to verify this with numerous people that this type of treatment happens on almost a daily basis. Our goal here is to get this to stop. We want our clients to be able to go to work, to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Greisen says her clients were misled into thinking they were getting promotions and then were denied while men were hired more often and promoted up the ranks faster than women.
Sushi Den's Attorney Erin Webber issued a statement:
“Sushi Den values its employees and patrons and is committed to providing a workplace free of harassment and discrimination. A very small number of its many employees are making these allegations even after an independent third-party investigator reviewed the facts and found allegations of systemic discrimination or harassment against female employees to be unsubstantiated. Sushi Den looks forward to vigorously defending itself and disproving the claims that have been made. Sushi Den also looks forward to continuing to provide diners with the finest sushi in Denver. Due to pending litigation, Sushi Den will not provide further comment at this time.”
The EEOC will now investigate and issue a ruling if there is probable cause for a lawsuit. The investigation process usually takes up to one year.