Judge dismisses sex harrassment case against The Precinct

Friday, September 25, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A former server's sexual harassment suit against The Precinct restaurant was thrown out this week by U.S. District Judge Sandra S. Beckwith.

Although there was unseemly behavior, the judge noted, the steakhouse management at 311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum, was not responsible.

Further, when Christy Yunger complained, general manager Tony Ricci disciplined the offenders promptly and stiffened a penalty after consulting with owner Jeff Ruby.

"The judge did what she was supposed to do with garbage," Mr. Ruby said on Thursday. "She threw it out."

Ms. Yunger, of Groesbeck, said abuse began on her first day in September, 1995, with remarks about her body, and it escalated to questions and speculations about her sexual preferences.

On October 28, 1995, bartender Mike Daffin exposed himself and assistant manager David Wilson suggested she might enjoy sex with Mr. Daffin, Ms. Yunger said. Three days later, she complained to Mr. Ricci.

He called a meeting on Nov. 2 and told Mr. Daffin and Mr. Wilson they would be working on probation for the next 30 days.

Mr. Daffin quit. After a discussion with Mr. Ruby, Mr. Ricci dropped the probation and suspended Mr. Wilson for two weeks without pay.

Ms. Yunger said illegal retaliation began immediately when she was assigned too many customers and co-workers stopped speaking to her. She quit on Nov. 5 after Mr. Ricci accused her of smoking marijuana at the restaurant, an allegation she denied.

Judge Beckwith first separated harassment claims against co-workers and supervisors:

The Precinct was not liable for coworkers' behavior because Ms. Yunger said nothing to managers before the incident involving Mr. Daffin. Further, Mr. Ricci disciplined Mr. Daffin and Mr. Wilson promptly.

Assuming Mr. Wilson was a supervisor, The Precinct might be liable if his coarse remarks created a sexually hostile environment. However, that claim failed because Mr. Ruby and The Precinct had an explicit policy against sexual harassment and Mr. Wilson knew it.

As for retaliation, there was no evidence of management involvement in coworkers' silent treatment or the number of patrons assigned to Ms. Yunger's tables. Similarly, Ms. Yunger quit after being accused of smoking dope and admitting she held a marijuana pipe in the banquet kitchen.

There was no evidence the accusation was retaliation, Judge Beckwith said on Tuesday, granting pretrial summary judgment to The Precinct on all claims.

Mr. Ruby said he chose not to settle the claim "as a matter of principle."

Ms. Yunger's attorney, Robert Laufman, said that it was too early to say whether there would be appeal.

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