Worker Files Sexual Harassment Suit Against Purple Pig Restaurant

Geoff Dankert
August 22, 2018 - 12:05 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Geoff Dankert

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Lawyers for a former employee at a Magnificent Mile restaurant said their client endured repeated sexual harassment by coworkers and that the restaurant's managers took no action to stop it. 

Rodrigo Soto bussed tables at the Purple Pig restaurant for nearly a year starting last summer. Over a period of several months, several co-workers subjected him to sexual and other forms of harassment. 

"It was daily, basically," Soto told reporters during a protest outside the entrance to the Purple Pig, located at 500 N. Michigan Avenue. "It started little by little, and then it became worse and worse."

His lawyer Javier Castro said he's filed a complaint with the state's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on his client's behalf. 

"Mr. Soto was continuously...sexually harassed at the hands of three male co-workers, with inappropriate touching and sexual commentary," Castro said. "Mr. Soto informed his managers repeatedly, and yet management...failed to act and allowed the harassment to continue."

During the demonstration, 10th Ward Chicago Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza criticized the owner, second-generation restaurateur and chef Jimmy Bannos Jr., who she said refused to address numerous complaints by his employees about inappropriate conduct.

"Shame on him for not taking this seriously," she said. "These people should not have to come to work every day with the worry of sexual harassment, with the worry of harassment because they have to go to the bathroom or they need to take a break." 

Wednesday afternoon, the restaurant's managing partners issued this statement to WBBM Newsradio:

“The Purple Pig has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination of any kind. Our colleagues are obligated to report any concerns to our management team, as detailed in a written policy in our employee handbook. In compliance with workplace laws, we take all complaints very seriously, investigating them promptly and thoroughly, and with sensitivity toward confidentiality. 

As a business built upon the foundation of immigration to the United States by our own ancestors, we are proud to foster a welcoming, supportive environment for all of our team members.

We look forward to continuing to set a positive example for the hospitality community in Chicago and beyond."