Fired Phila. server who claimed sexual harassment alleges retaliatory discharge in suit

By Jon Campisi | Nov 29, 2014

A Philadelphia woman is suing her former employer over claims that she was fired from

her job as a restaurant server in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment perpetrated by a coworker.

Northeast Philadelphia resident Desiree Ehlers claims in her civil action, which was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on May 20 by employment attorney Ari R. Karpf, of the Bucks County firm Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti, that she was terminated for “completely pretextual reasons” after she complained about being physically groped and harassed by a fellow employee identified only by his first name, Julio.

The coworker, Ehlers claims, made unwelcome sexual gestures and advances toward the plaintiff in the mere one month that the woman worked at Andy’s Diner & Pub in the Trevose section of Lower Bucks County, which is located just over the county line from Philadelphia.

Julio’s sexual advances and gestures, which included grabbing the plaintiff on her buttocks and vaginal area, made Ehlers feel “extremely uncomfortable,” the lawsuit claims, enough so that the woman complained to management about the treatment.

The plaintiff’s supervisors, however, failed to properly investigate or resolve the woman’s complaints, and instead began treating the plaintiff in a “rude and condescending manner and refusing to seat customers in her section,” the complaint states.

After complaining yet again about the treatment on the part of Julio, and the inaction taken by management, the defendant, which is listed in the suit as Maya Diner Inc., doing business as Andy’s Diner & Pub, terminated the woman’s employment, the suit claims.

The lawsuit contains counts of sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation.

The plaintiff accuses the defendant of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Ehlers seeks unspecified compensatory damages, as well as damages relating to pain, suffering and humiliation, punitive damages, front and back pay, litigation costs, attorney’s fees and benefits and other equitable and legal relief.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02783.

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