Nobu Malibu Disputes Hostess' Sexual Harassment Claims

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Nobu Malibu LLC has responded to a hostess' lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by managers and patrons with new court papers citing multiple legal defenses and urging that judgment be entered in the restaurant's favor along with an award of attorneys' fees.

The plaintiff, a 23-year-old hostess identified only as Jane Doe, sued the restaurant in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging she and her female colleagues were routinely subjected to sexual assault by customers and managers.

"Because of its close proximity to Hollywood's brightest stars and (due to) Nobu's `please the customer first' mantra, plaintiff and other young female hostesses performing the same role, endure outright sexual advances and abuse for the sake of maintaining Nobu's glamorous reputation and keeping their jobs," the suit filed Sept. 13 states.

But in court papers filed Thursday with Judge Daniel M. Crowley, Nobu attorneys maintain that Doe's claims are barred in whole or in part by the statute of limitations and the plaintiff's "own actions and course of conduct."

Nobu lawyers also maintain that Doe is bound by a binding agreement to arbitrate any workplace disputes and that her request for punitive damages is unconstitutional. The defense attorneys ask that judgment be entered in the restaurant's favor and that it be awarded attorneys' fees.

On Sept. 18, a woman identified only as Jayne Doe II filed a similar suit, alleging sexual assault and battery, gender discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment and negligent hiring and supervision.

Jayne Doe II "treasures her employment at Nobu, not only for her steady salary, but also for the reputation that comes with an otherwise desirable job that affords plaintiff work flexibility," the second complaint states.

However, Nobu requires its young hostesses to greet guests in scantily clad black uniforms while not protecting them from "overt sexual harassment" from both patrons and supervisors, the second suit states.

The Nobu restaurants were founded by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, actor Robert De Niro and producer Meir Teper.

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