Former cafe worker who alleged sexual harassment files wrongful termination claim

By Jon Campisi | Oct 21, 2011

A café worker who claims she was fired from her job after complaining to management about incidents of sexual harassment has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her former employer.

The civil claim was filed Oct. 19 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Philadelphia attorneys Sidney L. Gold and Neelima Vanguri on behalf of Philadelphia resident Liva Tate.

The defendant named in the lawsuit is the Jenkintown, Pa.-based Curds ‘N Whey Café.

According to the complaint, Tate, who was hired by the defendant as a line cook in 2008, experienced a period of constant sexual harassment on the part of one of the business’s employees. The harassment allegedly continued up until her firing in the summer of 2009.

“During the course of her employment, Plaintiff Tate was subjected to a hostile work environment due to severe and pervasive incidents of sexual harassment,” the suit claims.

Specifically, Tate’s immediately supervisor, the head chef at the business identified in the lawsuit as Alfred “Chip” Williams, subjected Tate and other female employees to “uninvited and unwanted sexually offensive conduct and derogatory comments,” the lawsuit states.

For Tate, the conduct included having her buttocks groped and experiencing other unwanted advances, the suit claims. On numerous occasions, Williams told of his desire to have sexual relations with the plaintiff; he also allegedly demanded oral sex from her at times.

“At all times relevant hereto, Plaintiff Tate vehemently opposed Williams’ inappropriate comments and behavior, and registered her opposition to his unwanted and uninvited sexual advances,” the lawsuit states.

In December 2008, Tate complained to the business’s owner about the harassment, but the proprietor failed to conduct an investigation into the plaintiff’s claims, the suit states. The owner had claimed it was a “he said, she said” situation.

Therefore, Williams continued to grope Tate and call her sexually offensive names, the suit claims. In July 2009, Tate’s employment was “unlawfully constructively terminated.”

The lawsuit claims that Tate’s federal and state rights have been violated. The complaint includes various counts of sexual harassment and hostile work environment.

Tate demands front and back pay and benefits, as well as unspecified compensatory, punitive and liquidated damages, and damages for pecuniary losses, pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.

A jury trial is being sought.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-06541-TJS.

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