Two men who allege they were sexually harassed by a male boss while working for Hooters are suing the restaurant chain and the supervisor, court papers show.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Paul “PJ” Cagnina and Scott Peterson against Hooters and Rick Leukert states that Peterson was fired, but is unclear on Cagnina’s current status with the company.
Their attorney, Jason Oliver, did not immediately return a call for comment.
The suit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks unspecified damages, as well as a court order directing Hooters to stop allowing sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Hooters of America released a statement today in reaction to the lawsuit.
“This matter involves a franchised location and its employees in California,” the statement read. “We have no independent knowledge of the facts and are therefore unable to comment.”
According to the complaint, Leukert was Cagnina’s supervisor and CEO at various locations where the plaintiff worked, including Hollywood. After a bikini contest at the Hooters in Costa Mesa, Leukert “threw Mr. Cagnina down to the parking lot” and engaged in a simulated sex act with the plaintiff in front of others, the suit alleges.
Leukert also “continually tried getting Mr. Cagnina to go skinny dipping with female employees” who were the plaintiff’s subordinates, but Cagnina refused, according to the suit.
Leukert once took the cell phone of a female Hooters general manager Cagnina was dating and viewed “private, intimate photos” of the plaintiff on the device, the complaint alleges.
While Cagnina was being honored as a new general manager, Leukert said in front of others that he told his assistant to write an unflattering name, “PGay,” on the plaintiff’s trophy instead of his actual name, the suit alleges. Leukert also referred to Cagnina often as “cagina” because it rhymed with “vagina,” the suit states.
Leukert once started an executive store meeting by asking Cagnina if he “had been impregnating any Hooters’ girls lately” and suggested he was the father of an expectant company employee’s baby, the suit alleges.
Peterson alleges Leukert repeatedly touched him in an inappropriate way and talked about him in a sexually demeaning manner during meetings of general managers. Leukert also sent Peterson photos of a female co-worker with whom he claimed to have slept and also told him about a two-year relationship he had with another woman employee, the suit alleges.
Both Cagnina and Peterson maintained they were retaliated against after they complained about Leukert’s alleged misconduct. Peterson says he was ultimately fired.
—City News Service