Post-Bankruptcy, Centro Employees Sue Anne Burrell for Discrimination

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Photo: Melissa Hom

Yesterday Sasha Muniak’s upscale deli chain, Mangia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the face of somewhere under $10 million in creditor debt. (You can read Abbe Diaz’s take on that here — she’s Muniak’s wife and unofficial mouthpiece.) Crain’s also reported that the Mangia employee who brought a discrimination suit against Mangia has now withdrawn it, but meanwhile at another one of Muniak’s operations, Centro (which filed for bankruptcy about a month ago), a couple of employees have brought a discrimination suit against former chef Anne Burrell, who they say harassed them with sexist slurs, and against the higher-ups who they say terminated their employment when they complained.

The allegations laid out in the complaint are outlined in Centro’s motion to dismiss, which has been denied by a judge. One of the plaintiffs, Susan Kendall Bradford, was mocked by Burrell for her “slutty” attire (even though she was wearing a uniform) and her prominent cleavage. Burrell also allegedly mocked another bartender for having “saggy boobs” and called her a “ho,” and had a trainee fired because she was a woman. Another defendant, Jennifer Sue Lim, alleges that she was called a “whore” and was fired for fabricated reasons (stealing cheese and a shot of tequila, and giving away too many freebies). And a third defendant, Sara Hennigan, a manager who was allegedly fired for sympathizing with Lim and Bradford, says she was accused of faking an ovarian cyst when she was out sick. The complaint continues:

When Hennigan told Burrell that she was the manager on duty and Burrell would have to communicate and acknowledge her for the health of the restaurant, she huffed and banged a pan, then rolled her eyes in front of her whole kitchen staff. The male employees were not treated in the same or similar manner and the plaintiffs were treated in this manner because of their sex.

Lim and Bradford complained repeatedly to Hennigan, their supervisor and manager about the discriminatory treatment by Burrell. Hennigan, in turn, passed these complaints as well as her own to her supervisor, Elkins and to Muniak. In February 2008, after one such complaint, Elkins responded to Hennigan by email stating: “don’t buy into her [Burrell‘s] s##t. I will find a way to deal with her early next week.” Defendants terminated both Bradford and Lim outright and constructively terminated Hennigan, in whole or in part in retaliation for their complaints of the discriminatory mistreatment they suffered.

You can read the rest of the complaint below. It was brought to our attention by Abbe Diaz’s website, PX This (Muniak, who is married to Diaz, is named in the suit as one of the higher-ups responsible for terminating the plaintiffs for discriminatory reasons).

Bradford et. al. vs. Burrell et. al. [PDF]
Chef Anne Burrell… Sued for Discrimination [PX This]
Italian Eatery Mangia Files for Bankruptcy [Crain's NY]