Image of A Pepperoni Pizza from Aurelio's
A Pepperoni Pizza from Aurelio's; image courtesy of Navin Rajagopalan via Wikimedia Commons,

Have you ever worked in a job where you felt unfairly treated or disrespected? It happens, but sometimes the treatment can be so extreme that it results in lawsuits. That’s what happened with Linda Steen-Bilecki. Steen-Bilecki is a former employee of Aurelio’s Pizza in Joliet, Illinois who was fired after speaking up about allegations of verbal abuse and unfair treatment. As a result, she filed a lawsuit against the establishment on October 25.

According to the suit, Steen-Bilecki was hired as a server by the pizza joint in 2016. During her time at Aurelio’s Pizza, she claims she “performed other tasks and that she did her job to the legitimate expectations and satisfaction of her employer and beyond.” She also claims that during her shifts, other employees would play inappropriate and loud music, “engage in inappropriate and lewd conversations, and use profanity in front of customers.” Her suit also claims her immediate supervisor “not only called her old and ugly but described her with profanity.” The same supervisor also allegedly told her, “We’ll get you out of here one way or the other.”

Image of Downtown Joliet, Illinois
Downtown Joliet, Illinois; image courtesy of Dennisyerger84 via the English Wikipedia,

In response to the unfair treatment and verbal abuse, Steen-Bilecki reached out to upper management and alerted them to her supervisor’s inappropriate behavior. However, instead of being met with support, she was “retaliated against by someone who put large amounts of sugar in her coffee even though she had diabetes.

Soon after in October 2016, she received a call from Luke Pascale, the owner of the restaurant, who told her she was “fired and expressed astonishment she would attempt legal action.According to Steen-Bilecki, he also told her, “I’ll send you your final check when I feel like it.”

Prior to filing her lawsuit, Steen-Bilecki reached out to the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Unfortunately for her, the case was dismissed in July because the “agency determined there was no substantial evidence to support the allegations.”

So how has Pascale and the restaurant responded to the allegations? Well, so far Pascale has pushed back against Steen-Bilecki’s claims and described the allegations as “not even remotely true.” He added, “This is 100 percent made up on her end” and said he was “being sued for a fabricated story.” When asked why Steen-Bilecki was fired, he said she was fired over “multiple infractions and progressive discipline issues” and said, “there was a series of write-ups that she was issued.” He added, “She was fired for cause. She claims I was swearing at her and whatnot, which I don’t do.”


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