A New York restaurant was fined $5,000 for putting out help wanted ad that was allegedly gender biased, but now, the owner says he is fighting the charge.
A female employee at Sistina, an Italian eatery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, posted an advertisement on Craigslist searching for a “hostess” and admits that she didn’t even think of the gender preference the word implied when she posted it.
“I just wrote it as I would write any other ad,” said 24-year-old Lara Kineavy, one of three employees out of 21 total at the restaurant. “I just typed, ‘Hostess/coat check needed. Reliable, personable, organized.’ Really no gender specified.”
The restaurant’s owner Giuseppe Bruno calls the $5,000 fine from the Commission on Human Rights a “scam” and plans to fight it.
“This is an outrage, and more restaurants need to share their stories so this nonsense is stopped,” Bruno told the NY Post. “Someone needs to help these restaurants. They want us to settle for $5,000. I’m not going to settle. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Kineavy says that the restaurant received two responses to the ad – one from a female, and another from a male. The hostess, who doubles as Bruno’s assistant, says that she didn’t respond to either email, but as it turns out, the Commission on Human Rights sent both responses as “testers” to see if the restaurant was hiring one specific gender and claims that only the female’s response was opened. Kineavy and Bruno deny this, but say that if the commission does think that, it may have been a mistake on their part.
“We are human. It’s possible we made a mistake, but we got no warning,” said Bruno.
Bruno is not alone in his fight, with State Senator José Peralta supporting the restaurant and criticizing the commission for targeting “unintentionally gendered language.” So far, the commission has defended their actions, saying that they issue “thousands of presentations a year” to educate people on the laws, but they maintain that do not have to issue warnings prior to fining establishments.