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Bias Cited at Tavern / Retaliation against complainants alleged

Le Bar Bat, the trendy midtown Manhattan night spot, was hit with a

federal lawsuit yesterday charging the company with sexual and racial

harassment.

The suit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,

also alleges that the company retaliated against some of the women who

filed complaints by distributing fliers in their neighborhoods saying

they were suspected prostitutes, child molesters and drug dealers.

The company's lawyer, Catherine Rogers of Ross & Hardies in

Manhattan, would say only that "we have been dealing with the EEOC on

this matter."

The EEOC said that it filed the suit on behalf of the company's

white-female workers as well as its male and female African-American

employees. It came after six women, who worked as hostesses and cocktail

waitresses at the bar and restaurant, filed complaints with the agency.

The EEOC charges that beginning in 1995 the women suffered "unwelcome

sexual touching, sexually and racially explicit comments and sexual

propositions."

Three of the women are African American and three are white. Four

of the six were targets for the alleged retaliation, the EEOC said. The

agency charges that the company used private personnel information,

including photocopies of a driver's license, for the fliers.

"I have never seen a retaliation case like this," said EEOC

supervisory trial lawyer Elizabeth Grossman. "I have never seen an

employer respond so rapidly to legitimate charges of discrimination by

removing private confidential information from employees' personnel

files and distributing it with the intent to harm the employees in

retaliation for filing the charges."

The lawyer representing the six women said she was pleased with

yesterday's announcement.

Said Elizabeth Mason of the Manhattan law firm Mason &

Breitenecker, "While it unfortunately is common in sexual harassment

cases for a woman to experience retaliation in the workplace upon

reporting sex discrimination, what makes this case more horrifying is

that four of the six were subjected to a slanderous flier campaign."

A separate federal criminal case that is pending charges a manager

and other employees with trying to obstruct the EEOC investigation by

intimidating the complainants.

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