SBE, the local hospitality company that capitalized on bottle service, celeb-shagging, and perceived exclusivity until it had both the muscle and money to back brands like The SLS Hotel, Katsuya, Umami Burger, and The Abbey, is getting sued. Keyon Wilson, a line-cook briefly employed at Cleo at The Redbury Hotel, is accusing Sam Nazarian's group of discrimination after she was allegedly subjected to a torrent of racially-charged and abusive statements, causing her to flee her job. LAist notes that Wilson filed a discrimination lawsuit against both the restaurant and SBE on Tuesday, accusing the restaurant of wrongful termination, the "intentional infliction of emotional distress," and harassment.
According to the suit, Wilson started working at Cleo in late September of 2012 when she says co-workers honed in on her with disgusting comments, using an ugly epithet to target the gay woman, calling her a "ho," and telling the African-American chef to "Get to the back of the bus, Rosa Parks."
Wilson, a Cordon Bleu-trained Angeleno whose work experience includes line cook positions at Palihouse and Church & State, says she took her troubles to human resources, only to be forced into taking unpaid days off,. The situation lead to her quitting just weeks after being hired, citing the abuse and forced leave as the impetus for her terminating her employment.
Unfortunately, discrimination, homophobia, and sexism are still rampant in our society and professional kitchens are hardly exempt. At the same time, we've seen a lot of lawsuits hit our big businesses in the years past; some of them righteous, some of them simply opportunistic. SBE itself has been sued in the past for such alleged offenses as an overly violent bouncer, and having too good of a time in Hollywood.
We'll be following the story to see if this is one rejection behind the velvet rope that SBE can't afford to administer.