Hollywood hotspot Nobu Malibu was sued on September 13 by a Jane Doe accuser, who alleges that hostesses have been “subjected to an intense pattern and practice” of sexual misconduct by supervisors. This is evident from an examination of court documents by The Hollywood ReporterThe lawsuit makes similar claims to at least two others since 2019 against the Malibu restaurant location.
Nobu did not respond to email and telephone requests for comment. The restaurant was founded by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and producer Meir Teper. Since opening in 1994, it has become a hub for Hollywood power players and the brand has expanded to include 56 locations around the world and a hotel chain.
The trio of lawsuits allege sexual advances and groping of executives, after which management failed to adequately respond to the alleged misconduct to prevent retaliation from the employees’ supervisors.
Jane Doe’s accuser, who filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, is seeking at least $500,000 and punitive damages. She alleges, among other things, assault and battery, gender discrimination and negligent hiring. In addition to Nobu, the complaint names a bar manager named Marcus whose last name was not disclosed. The lawsuit states that his “patented and favorite move was to go to the hostess stand, walk close behind the female hostesses and lightly caress their buttocks before they had a chance to avoid his advances.”
At one point in 2021, Marcus allegedly approached the accuser in the back office, restrained both of her hands and kissed her neck. He was fired early the next year after several hostesses reported him for sexual harassment to Nobu management, who allegedly knew of his pattern of misconduct, the complaint alleges.
“Because Marcus was fired so quickly — given Plaintiff’s complaint, and not his history of sexually inappropriate behavior toward female Nobu hostesses in general — it appeared to Plaintiff that NOBU management was well aware of Marcus’ harassing behavior , but willingly tolerated the behavior as long as no one complained, or complained too loudly or persistently,” the complaint states.
In the wake of Marcus’ dismissal, Nobu human resources ordered hostesses to sign a form acknowledging their satisfaction with the investigation into their complaints in an effort to secure a “blanket concession for employees to get out of jail free” “, to secure. to the plaintiff. Under duress, the staff signed the document even though the firing failed to address the “larger problem of the less visible sexually aggressive behavior of customers and other managers and coworkers,” the lawsuit alleges.
The retaliation the hostess alleged came in the form of management staff, many of whom were friends with Marcus, preventing her from being assigned to the more desirable weekend night shifts, which were given to newer hostesses in a manner that deviated from the already long-standing planning of the restaurant. procedure. Nobu supervisors were also accused of “passive inaction” for allowing Marcus to repeatedly visit Nobu, “willingly placing their female employees at risk of revictimization and emotional distress,” according to the complaint.
Looking back to 2012, Nobu has been sued in three other lawsuits for sexual harassment and retaliation. The allegations show that the restaurant turned a blind eye to allegedly hostile work environments.
In a complaint filed in 2020, a sushi chef alleged that another chef frequently approached him from behind while the plaintiff was serving food and grabbed the plaintiff’s butt, among other inappropriate touching and making rude comments. The chef who filed the complaint alleged he was fired in 2020 amid closures forced by the COVID-19 pandemic after reporting harassment to human resources. The chef claimed that he was the only head sushi chef who was not rehired and that the restaurant was looking to hire more employees in his previous position. That case was dismissed in 2021 after it was moved to arbitration.
In another lawsuit filed in 2019 and settled the following year, a kitchen employee accused the restaurant of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation and negligent hiring, among other things. She alleged that she was constantly exposed to groping and sexually suggestive comments from her supervisor, who would regularly walk behind her to press “his genitals against (her) buttocks,” according to the complaint. While management responded to this employee’s complaints to HR by “separating” the two for a brief period, it proceeded to bring them back together, leading to the resumption of the supervisor’s alleged misconduct, the lawsuit alleged . This employee said she was informed that she would be fired if she continued to complain and that “Defendants have continued to retaliate against her since then.” That case was settled in 2020.
Additionally, Nobu was sued in 2012 by a former employee for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The case was settled the following year.