Flanigan's Lawsuit - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Flanigan's Lawsuit

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A popular South Florida restaurant chain is under fire tonight by four women who say they were targets of discrimination and retaliation at work. They're suing Flanigan's as a result. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

WSVN -- The surveillance video from inside this Flanigan's restaurant in Kendall shows a male employee reaching for the breast of a female employee.

That woman, Diana Allen, says she has worked for Flanigan's for 26 years.

Diana Allen: "The bartender came in, he saw me standing there and he said 'Ooo' and he grabbed me on my breast inappropriately. It was very humiliating since I'm old enough to be his mother."

The 33-year-old man was charged with misdemeanor battery but allowed to enter a diversion program to avoid a criminal record.

However, a civil lawsuit filed by Allen and three former female employees contends that Flanigan's took no action against the man but retaliated against her by moving her to another location.

Diana Allen: "Why would I be moved out of the store? I didn't do anything wrong. I was the victim once and then I was the victim again.

Carmel Cafiero: "Diana Allen and the three former employees are taking their claims to federal court. At issue, allegations the women were mistreated at restaurants from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach County."

Michelle Espido: "That's exactly what I told him, '[Expletive] off.'"

Michelle Espido, a former server, says a manager at this Flanigan's in Davie, made sexually harassing comments to her and about her.

Michelle Espido: "He was saying that he wanted to smell my panties."

Dominique Tavarez says she witnessed the harassment and that her problems at work began after she signed a letter backing up Espido's account.

Dominique Tavarez: "Since the day that I started, I've had a five day schedule, full-time...and then after I sign her letter, boom, I drop to three days, or two days."

Kimberly Shagena worked at the Flanagan's in Wellington. She says she was retaliated against after advising a young server who came to her with a disturbing story.

Kimberly Shagena: "When an 18-year-old little girl comes up to you and says 'The manager just told me he wanted to do inappropriate things to me in the back' and I tell her to call corporate, I feel like I followed procedure and I was fired for it."

Kimberly Dominique and Michelle all contend in the lawsuit they were unfairly fired.

Allen meanwhile is still with the company.

Marc Reiner: "Just the facts themselves are pretty...They're pretty disturbing."

Their attorney says the evidence will show his clients were the victims of discrimination.

Marc Reiner: "The fact is, these actions, these behaviors, taken by corporate, they haven't occurred to any males who worked there. Bottom line is, only females have been affected by these behaviors."

Flanigan's has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit claiming in part the women's claims are not supported by facts.

The company attorney turned down our request for an interview, saying "...Flanigan's does not believe it would be appropriate to comment on pending litigation."

Allen is now in the strange spot of speaking out publicly against her current employer.

Diana Allen: "It's like my family, all the people that worked there are like my family members. Now, I'm not getting treated respectfully, at all. I'm like the pariah now because I complained."

It appears the next move in this Flanigan's feud will come in a courtroom.

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:

Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE

Broward: 954-921-CLUE

E-mail: clue@wsvn.com

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