Prova Pizzabar, Owned by Donatella Arpaia and Mark Geragos, Sued for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

On Thursday, October 5, 2017, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Prova Pizzabar, a restaurant located inside Grand Central Station. This popular pizza spot is owned by television personality and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia and celebrity criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos. A female ex-employee of Prova Pizzabar claims she was severely harassed and sexually accosted by a coworker and was then terminated when complaining about it to a supervisor. The lawsuit alleges discrimination based on her sex at the hands of her co-worker, creating an extremely hostile and intimidating work environment.

The former employee was subject to constant sexual advances and sexually charged comments without any consent. Her coworker would make frequent comments about changes in her figure and critiques about her backside. She would also constantly witness her coworker call out derogatory, sexually charged comments to female customers.  The hostile work environment came to a climax when her coworker aggressively groped her buttocks in an area of the restaurant where cameras were present.  She immediately reported the sexual harassment to her manager but was fired the very next day under the guise that there was not enough available work for her.

When Fitapelli & Schaffer reached out to Prova Pizzabar on behalf of the plaintiff in an attempt to resolve the matter pre-litigation, the principals Arpaia and Geragos threatened the plaintiff and the firm via a letter with unfounded monetary sanctions. Even though this retaliatory threat was intended to harass and dissuade the Plaintiff from pursuing her claims, Fitapelli & Schaffer did not back down. A lawsuit was immediately filed on behalf of the plaintiff adding a retaliatory claim to include the threats made in their letter.  The lawsuit seeks to recover punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and other legal and equitable relief under the New York City Human Rights Law. To read more about this case, you may view the complaint here.

It is a company’s responsibility to make sure that they effectively communicate, enforce and properly instruct their staff of any policy against discrimination. Unfortunately, that was not the case in this situation. Not only did this former employee have to endure sexual harassment and discrimination at the hands of Prova Pizzabar but she was also wrongfully terminated for stepping forward and speaking out about being molested.  The employment lawyers of Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP take work place discrimination very seriously. If you feel you may have experienced sexual harassment or discrimination in your place of employment and were terminated for speaking out against it, you may have a claim. Contact us for a free phone consultation at (212) 300-0375.