Two women workers won sexual harassment cases against their Queens employers Tuesday when the state Division of Human Rights recognized their claims, awarding them a combined total of nearly $200,000 in damages.
The harassment cases occurred at a Team Taco Mexico restaurant, at 88-12 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights, and K & K Management Services, a cleaning and contracting company, at 42-34 Corporal Kennedy St. in Bayside.
“Every person is legally entitled to a work environment free of harassment and discrimination,” said Alphonso David, the state deputy secretary for civil rights. “Sexual harassment will not be tolerated in our state and the administration will use its powers to prosecute those who violate the law.”
In the Jackson Heights case, a waitress at Team Taco Mexico reported her boss, owner David Orduna, had inappropriately touched the worker, appeared at her home uninvited and offered to pay her rent in exchange for a sexual relationship, the Division of Human Rights said in a report.
After refusing Orduna’s advances, the abuse had turned to insults in the presence of customers and a weekly salary that was $250 less than that of other waitresses, the report said.
In its decision, the division awarded the woman $50,000 in compensatory damages, $13,000 of which as back wages for when she was paid less than co-workers; $10,668.68 as back wages for when she was unemployed; and $23,700.06 as back wages for when she could not find a comparable salary while employed. Orduna was also ordered to pay $75,000 as a civil fine and penalty for violating New York’s human rights law.
The abuse led to depression and anxiety after the victim said she was forced to resign from her position, the report said.
In the Bayside case, a woman working at K & K Management Services was subject to inappropriate behavior soon after being hired, the report said.
Owner Kwang Wun Kim allegedly harassed the female victim to the point of fondling and assault, the division said. He also attempted to persuade the victim to sleep with clients to generate business, the report said.
Though the woman resigned from her position, Kim continued to harass her by telephone, the report said.
The victim was awarded $75,000 in compensatory damages and $27,500 in back wages. Jim was also ordered to pay $25,000 in civil fines and penalties.
Both the victims’ employers will also have to pay civil fines and penalties and implement formal anti-discrimination policies and reporting systems for workers who believe they are being discriminated against, the Division of Human Rights said.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community News Group
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