Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP / Getty Images
Two former Hispanic employees of a Manhattan steakhouse owned by famous Turkish chef Nusr-et Gökçe, better known as “Salt Bae,” have filed separate $ 500,000 lawsuits alleging employment discrimination based on their nationality.
According to the separate demands, Turkish workers are treated better in the restaurant than those who are not. Peruvian Angelo Maher and Elizabeth Cruz -daughter of Dominicans- allege they were discriminated against when working as waiters, according to complaints filed against the chef’s company last week in the Manhattan Supreme Court.
Maher, a Peruvian who started working there in 2017, claims that he was regularly placed in less lucrative sections of the restaurant than Turkish employees and that they were protected by management, even if they had a poor performance or misconduct. He also alleges in his lawsuit that information about how they paid tips at the restaurant was withheld from him and other non-Turkish workers.
The Peruvian waiter stated that He was forced to give up tips when serving famous chef friends, including rapper French Montana. When he complained about the alleged discrimination to Human Resources in September 2019, he received retaliation, according to the documents.
In a separate lawsuit, Cruz says she was hired in April 2019 and shortly after was sexualized in a way that Turkish workers and other male employees were not.
In particular, Cruz arrived in the normal uniform, but they told her to go home and put on “a short skirt, high heels and a revealing blouse”, the file alleges. Apparently the manager told him: “My wife is Dominican, I know how you women are” and that “was suggesting that Cruz was sexually promiscuous” due to her origin.
A few weeks later, Cruz asked the manager if he could go back to wearing the normal uniform because felt degraded and physically uncomfortable with the other, but was fired a few days later, the lawsuit claims.
A lawyer for Gökçe’s company has not responded to requests for comment, according to New York Post. Chef Gökçe has been mentioned in other similar lawsuits, including ones in 2019 that alleged he hit workers with tips and overtime pay in New York. He was also named in a $ 5 million copyright infringement lawsuit for allegedly using an image of a work of art.
In 2018 Gökçe was criticized for publishing a video personally serving the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, in his expensive restaurant in Istanbul, serving him meat despite the food crisis in that country.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.