Waitress says restaurant exec hired female employees to harass them.
Samantha Williams, a former waitress at the Huddle House restaurant in Alexandria, Louisiana, has filed a federal lawsuit against an executive with D’Argent Companies, its parent company, alleging sexual harassment. The lawsuit names D’Argent Franchising, LLC, D’Argent Construction, LLC, D’Argent Companies, LLC, Justin Giallonardo, and the parties’ insurance providers. Williams was employed from April of 2019 to August of 2020, at which time she chose to resign.
Williams’s suit alleges at Huddle House, “Giallonardo engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment which includes making requests for dates, inappropriate nicknames, text messages, sexual advances and threats to keep the communications secret.” It continues, “Giallonardo repeatedly invited Williams to his home. In one instance, Giallonardo allegedly tricked Williams into coming to his house for a barbeque for prospective managers, only for Williams to show up and find that no one else was invited. And Giallonardo attempted to engage in sexual interaction with Williams but she declined. After the ‘fake barbeque’ incident, Giallonardo confided in her supervisor at the restaurant. Williams claims that Giallonardo told her supervisor, ‘If I can’t [explicit] that girl, I’m going to fire her.’” That statement, when Williams found out about it, caused her to resign.
Williams’ attorney, William Most, said, “In my entire career as a lawyer, I have never seen a company treat its female employees as vilely and disgustingly as D’Argent has. We are confident that Ms. Williams’ claims are extremely strong, as we conducted a several-months-long investigation before filing the lawsuit. Our investigation has included speaking to approximately a dozen former D’Argent employees and Giallonardo family members. Every single person we spoke to corroborated D’Argent’s misconduct. We have collected evidence including documents, audiotapes and sworn statements that show D’Argent’s misconduct. Ms. Williams has claims against D’Argent for sexual harassment, infliction of emotional distress, and document destruction and witness intimidation. D’Argent’s behavior is illegal and immoral. It must stop now.”
After Giallonardo discovered Williams had quit her job at Huddle House before she could be terminated, he allegedly crafted a new separation notice and backdated it to make it appear as if she’d been fired. This document, along with others referenced in Most’s statement have been included as exhibits.
The other former employees of D’Argent Companies that were interviewed alleged Giallonardo repeatedly employed young women so he could sexually harass them, firing them if they rejected his advances. The filing contends other managers were also responsible for promoting this culture of sexual intimidation and at least five female employees have complained of harassment from other supervisors. Because the incidents were not exclusively linked to Giallonardo, Most has focused its case on D’Argent.
The defendants responded to the litigation, “The allegations are baseless and false. The main witnesses in the suit are the plaintiff’s live-in boyfriend and a convicted felon, both of whom are under active investigation for suspicion of theft from D’Argent Franchising, LLC. We will not be bullied by radical, out-of-town funded trial lawyers who sue people for a living and expect an easy payday settlement. We did nothing wrong, and we look forward to having our day in court.”