Judge Finds Restaurant Liable for Hostesses' Abuse

A prominent Long Island restaurant should be held liable for the “appalling” sexual abuse of three female employees by several male co-workers, Eastern District Judge William F. Kuntz has ruled.

The women, all sisters, worked as hostesses for Ayhan’s Fish Kebab Restaurant, also known as Ayken, starting in June 2005, March 2006, and August 2007. In a suit filed in 2011, Lauren, Ashley, and Gabrielle D’Annunzio alleged that defendant Juan Pablo Orellano, a dishwasher, Jamie Coronel, a co-worker, and Victor Bautista, a deliveryman, slapped their buttocks and made inappropriate comments, and sexual hand and motion gestures.

One of the women, who was 17 at the time, alleged that Orellano sexually assaulted her in the basement of the restaurant. While this was happening, the restaurant “took no meaningful corrective action,” Kuntz wrote in a June 10 decision granting summary judgment.

“Plaintiff’s set forth overwhelming evidence that defendant Ayken created a hostile work environment,” the judge wrote in D’Annunzio v. Ayken, 11-cv-3303. “It is manifestly apparent that plaintiffs were subject to severe harassment, culminating in one of the plaintiff’s being attacked by a fellow co-worker.”

The three employees, along with general manager Dario Gomez and president Ayhan Hassan, each submitted affidavits denying the harassment claims. In his affidavit, Gomez stated that he only heard one complaint from one of the women in regard to Bautista, who he then banned from the restaurant.

The defendants’ attorney, Bruce W. Migatz of Albanese & Albanse, said the women’s allegations contained numerous errors. “There was a great deal of self serving” in the affidavits, Migatz said in an interview. “Lauren, who stated that she was molested and working in a hostile environment, returned the next summer.”

The women were represented by Sara Wyn Kane, Robert John Valli, Jr., and Sumantra T. Sinha of Valli, Kane & Vagnini.

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