A former employee of Strega Waterfront recently received a favorable ruling from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) after making sexual harassment allegations, according to The Boston Globe.
Luvina Hernandez, who began working at the restaurant in 2013, reportedly filed a complaint with MCAD in 2014, alleging that her supervisor, Salvatore Firicano, made constant inappropriate comments about her body and sex life and had asked her to give him a massage. Furthermore, Hernandez claimed that her work schedule was changed — and her employment was eventually terminated — after she rejected Firicano’s advances, as the Globe reported.
The MCAD announced a ruling in September 2017 that found Firicano, the restaurant, and its ownership liable for sexual harassment, the Globe reported. The result of the ruling awarded Hernandez $20,000 in damages and ordered the restaurant to introduce a management training program.
A legal representative for the restaurant group behind Strega told the Globe that the group would be appealing the decision, at the same time noting that the group takes “all claims of sexual harassment, or any type of discrimination, seriously.”
Strega Waterfront is one of several restaurants in the family of the Varano Group, run by Nick Varano. In a 2015 profile by Boston Magazine, Varano is characterized as a “hefty bon vivant, the howyadoin’ come to life, full of wiseguy aphorisms,” a personality that his restaurants embody, serving up “larger-than-life Italian fare with casino-infused pomp and glitz.”
At Strega Waterfront, the profile noted, “the barmaids and hostesses wear high heels and reveal ebullient cleavage,” while the waiters are all male. “In Varano’s world, women adorn the bar and food is men’s work.”
The Varano Group previously fell under scrutiny for a sexually charged advertisement: In 2014, an ad for Strip by Strega, which was under construction at the time, featured a scantily-clad woman gazing at a piece of raw meat dangling from a hook above her. After some uproar, most of the ad was removed, with the company saying in a statement: “The image did not meet the standards of the owners of the restaurant; in addition to that, the panel had a typo on it. The intent of the series of images was to be alluring, not offensive.”
The Strega news comes at a time when allegations of sexual misconduct are surfacing across the restaurant industry (and in other industries as well). As high-profile chefs like Mario Batali and John Besh step away from their empires as a result of allegations, individuals continue to address claims of misconduct in lesser-known restaurant groups as well.
Locally, several women filed a lawsuit against McCormick & Schmick’s Boston restaurant last month, alleging groping and lewd comments from co-workers and supervisors. It was news of that lawsuit that inspired Hernandez to speak out publicly about her own complaint, as reported by 7 News Boston.
• Strega Fights $20,000 Award to Former Employee for Sexual Harassment [BG]
• Is Boston Ready for Nick Varano? [BM]
• Do Sex and Misspellings Sell Steak? [EBOS]
• Boston Employees Bring Sexual Harassment Suit Against McCormick & Schmick’s [EBOS]