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By Chris Opfer
Federal investigators are looking into a Las Vegas cocktail server’s accusation that a Hyde nightclub manager demanded sex and nude photos in exchange for a job.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating the server’s claim that she was passed over for a job at the Hyde nightclub in the Bellagio hotel on the Vegas strip because she declined the lurid requests, the agency said in a court filing yesterday. A Hyde manager allegedly told the woman that other servers had sex with managers to get jobs at the club.
The EEOC is asking a federal judge to force SBEEG Holdings LLC—a restaurant and entertainment company owned by Los Angeles businessman Sam Nazarian—and Spoonful Management to turn over information requested as part of the investigation. That includes unredacted text messages, a list of women job seekers who have applied for positions at the club, and details about any other sexual harassment complaints, among other information.
The filing comes as the EEOC steps up its role as the primary enforcer of federal workplace discrimination and harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The agency recently filed eight sexual harassment lawsuits over a three-day span.
SBEEG, Spoonful, and attorneys representing the companies didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment. The EEOC doesn’t comment on investigations, EEOC spokeswoman Nicole St. Germain told Bloomberg Law.
Katie Clayton alleges that former Hyde promotions manager Abe Ismail told her via text message that she could have the server job if she was willing to have sex with the club manager, according to a charge filed with the EEOC. She says Ismail also asked her to send him nude photos after she attended a casting call for the job. Clayton filed the charge on behalf of herself and other, unidentified servers allegedly subjected to the same harassment.
Jacqueline Godoy, an attorney for Spoonful, told the EEOC that it fired Ismail after Clayton complained to the company. Ismail didn’t interview Clayton for the job and wasn’t involved in the selection process for the job, which the company ultimately chose not to fill, Godoy said.
But the EEOC told a federal judge in Nevada that Ismail indicated in text messages to Clayton that other servers had performed sexual favors for managers in exchange for jobs. The agency also said the company has refused to fully respond to its requests for information.
Federal law generally requires a person to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC before suing in federal court. The agency typically investigates those charges, which are usually kept private, to determine whether the claims have merit.
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