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New Jersey waitress files suit against TV star’s spouse

Bergen County employees may dismiss a bigoted comment made by a co-worker as an isolated incident. It’s not uncommon for workers to weigh the seriousness of an offense against risks of filing a complaint with human resources, management or a lawyer.

A uncomfortable job experience can become a hostile work environment, where intimidation or harassment affects employees’ work. An occasional bout of teasing may not be grounds for a lawsuit, but a pervasive atmosphere of oppressiveness may be.

A woman, who worked twice for the husband of a “Real Housewives of New Jersey” reality TV star, claims her employer forced her to leave her job. The waitress said Albert Manzo, spouse of the TV show’s Caroline Manzo, and his brother routinely abused her and other employees verbally with epithets fueled by bigotry.

The waitress’s lawsuit concerns her time as an employee of the brothers’ Paterson catering house. She worked there twice for several months between 2011 and last month, despite the negative treatment. The plaintiff said a lack of available work drove her back to the job.

According to the discrimination claim, the waitress and her colleagues endured constant racially, ethnically and sexually charged name-calling. The worker alleges she was forced to leave the catering house three months after her second stint began, because the employers created a miserable and untenable environment.

In addition, the 36-year-old plaintiff charged the Manzos with cheating her out of overtime pay, although the waitress worked more than 40 hours per week. The waitress also described the establishment as “roach infested.”

Albert Manzo expressed shock when he heard of the filing, which the employer believes was rooted in his connection to TV fame.

Attorneys assess client complaints and determine whether a case is viable over forced quitting, known as constructive termination, or some other employer action. Each charge levied must have strong evidence to support it.

Source: New York Daily News, “Waitress who worked for husband of ‘Real Housewife,’ Caroline Manzo, claims bigotry and unfair pay ” Corky Siemaszko, Dec. 13, 2013

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