Dry-Humping Manager Costs Alton Restaurant Tony's $75,000

Lesson: Unless you're in the NFL, don't do this at work.
Lesson: Unless you're in the NFL, don't do this at work.
Tony's Restaurant in downtown Alton agreed this week to pay $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought on by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the lawsuit, Katie Comer was an 18-year-old high-school student working as a hostess at the restaurant in 2005 when she captured the attention of Tony's vice president Michael Ventimiglia. The suit alleges that Ventimiglia began touching Comer in an inappropriate manner and making sexually offensive suggestions to her soon after she began working for the family-owned restaurant at 312 Piasa Street.

By December of 2005 the unwanted advances reached the point that Comer complained to general manager Paul Ventimiglia, who allegedly told her that nothing could be done.

On December 18, 2005, the lawsuit claims that the harassment reached a crescendo at Comer's hostess stand.

That's when Michael Ventimiglia allegedly approached the teen from behind "placing his hands on each side of Comer between her armpits and breasts and trusting the front of his body against the back of Comer's body while he pulled Comer to him, thereby causing intimate contact between his groin area and Comer's buttocks"

The behavior ultimately caused Comer to quit the job. The suit alleges that two other female employees, one being a Katie Hofgren, were also the subjects of Ventimiglia's groping and lewd comments since 2005.

In a statement this week, Barbara Seely, attorney for EEOC, scolded the restaurant for ignoring the complaints from its female employees.

"Tony's is a family business and the alleged harasser was a family member," said Seely. "Although it may put management in a difficult situation, given the family relationships, it is critical in these situations for the employer to take clear unequivocal action, including discipline and discharge when necessary to stop the harassment." 

In addition to the cash settlement, Tony's has agreed not to rehire Michael Ventimiglia who has "recently left the company."