For Immediate Release - March 30, 2015

AG Healey Files Complaint Against Hadley Diner for Pattern of Sexual Harassment of Its Female Employees

Complaint Filed with MCAD against Route 9 Diner Alleges Years of Mistreatment and Humiliation by Ownership, Management and Kitchen Staff

BOSTON – Alleging at least a decade of regular and repeated sexual harassment of its female employees, Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a discrimination complaint against the owners and management of Route 9 Diner in Hadley.

The complaint, filed Friday with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), alleges that beginning as early as 2004, TC LLC – doing business as Route 9 Diner – engaged in a continuous pattern and practice of sexual harassment of its female employees, routinely subjecting them to mistreatment and humiliation in violation of federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

“We allege that this diner regularly subjected its waitresses to sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination, creating a hostile work environment,” AG Healey said. “No one should be degraded in the workplace because of their gender. Our office will work to ensure that all employees are protected from discriminatory practices.”

The diner is owned by defendants Christopher Karabetsos and Argiris Sideris, and managed in part by Dimitrios Demos and Steven Kwak. All four were named individually in the AG’s complaint. The AG’s Office alleges that the owners and managers failed to protect the waitresses from harassment even though they knew of the behavior and had the ability to remediate it.

According to the complaint, the female employees were regularly subjected to sexualized commentary, cat-calling, whistling, and unwanted touching and advances from cooks at the diner. The cooks allegedly grabbed waitresses’ hands or arms when they reached into the kitchen window to pick up their food orders, and cornered them in the kitchen’s walk-in refrigerator. In some cases, the cooks allegedly shut off the lights in the walk-in before following a waitress inside and closing the door behind them. While on shift, the cooks also allegedly looked at and showed the waitresses pornographic images and videos on their phones.                         

According to the complaint, waitresses reported the cooks’ harassment to ownership and managers on multiple occasions. In response, waitresses were allegedly told that they were easily replaceable and lucky to have jobs at the diner. Demos, Karabetsos and Kwak allegedly participated in the sexual harassment themselves, and regularly belittled and verbally abused waitresses at the diner. The complaint further alleges the diner’s male staff was not mistreated this way, and instead was given preference and better treatment.

The complaint includes the experiences of 10 former waitresses and hostesses as specific examples of the harassment they, and other female employees at the diner, were regularly subjected to.

The 24-hour diner, located on Russell Street, has a host staff and wait staff predominately made up of young women, many of whom attend nearby high schools or colleges. For many of these women, the diner was their first experience working, particularly at a restaurant. As a result of the pervasive sexual harassment, many of the waitresses suffered extreme emotional distress.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Kerry Tipper and Paralegal Paola Ozuna of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, along with Kristen Salera of AG Healey’s Investigations Division.