In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Adam Wiercinski, a caterer and deliveryman for Mangia from 1992 until 2008, alleges that managers at Sasha Muniak’s upscale takeout joints, including Muniak’s sister, violated the State Human Rights Law by discriminating against him because he was a Polish Jew. According to the complaint we obtained, which you can view below, Wiercinski experienced mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation, physical injury, and lost wages owing to years of “willful, outrageous, and shocking” conduct. Attorneys are asking that Mangia pay $1 million for each violation found, as well as lost wages and benefits.
The story begins in 1995, when an assistant manager at Mangia 48, Wojciech Lipski, allegedly showed a dislike of Wiercinski by assigning him small orders so that he’d get smaller tips. When Wiercinski complained, he was ordered to deliver 50 bottles of iced tea, causing him to throw out his back. His condition only grew worse when he continued to get heavy deliveries and small orders. When Wiercinski complained that his tips had fallen off to about $6,500 per year after Lipski was promoted to manager, Lipski allegedly told him, “Over my dead body will you be making any money here, you little Jew.”
According to the suit, Lispki ended up firing him, but Wiercinski succeeded in getting a gig at another location, Mangia 57. There he allegedly fell under the repeated abuse of another manager, Artur Zbozen, who hurled various racial slurs at him, warned other workers (who also taunted the plaintiff) that they’d be treated in a similar manner if they befriended him, and often paid the plaintiff in pennies (sometimes hurling them), or refused to deal with him altogether — until he finally fired him during a confrontation about the treatment. Among the litany of complaints about Zbozen: “Mr. Zbozen often passed gas in front of the plaintiff. He would also sprinkle salt and say, ‘This is your Cyclone [sic] B, you stupid Jew.’” Wiercinski was rehired after going to a superior, but the abuse is said to have continued. He eventually asked to be taken off of the night shift, which meant fewer working hours, but co-workers continued calling him “stupid Jew,” “Jewish pederast,” and the like.
In February of 2007, Muniak’s sister Malgorzata Cymanow is said to have gathered the plaintiff’s co-workers and told them not to speak to the “Jewish traitor” because he was about to file a lawsuit. That summer, the plaintiff indeed filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination. After a two-month leave to care for his ailing mother, Wiercinski was told that Muniak had instituted a hiring freeze in an effort to reduce Mangia’s workforce, and that he wouldn’t be getting his job back. However, Wiercinski believes that others who took similar leaves got their jobs back, and that new employees were hired during the supposed freeze.
All very shocking allegations to be sure — we’ve left a message at Mangia HQ and are awaiting any comment.
Update: Per an earlier story in the Post, Wiercinski filed papers with the N.Y. Division of Human Rights in May. According to these new papers filed with the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, Wiercinski discontinued the earlier case during a hearing with the Division of Human Rights (we’re attempting to find out why) and was denied a request to reopen it. Wiercinski hasn’t been granted a right to sue letter by the NYDHR, but is nevertheless suing “so as not to miss the statute of limitations,” according to the new complaint.
Wiercinski v. Mangia [PDF]