A settlement has been reached between Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and a former employee, Cristina Griffith, who “accused the restaurant group of harassing and ultimately firing her for refusing” to do tasks she deemed illegal and for “reporting them to her supervisors.” Additionally, the restaurant group was “accused of violating the state’s Whistleblower Act.”
A settlement has been reached between Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and a former employee, Cristina Griffith, who “accused the restaurant group of harassing and ultimately firing her for refusing” to do tasks she deemed illegal and for “reporting them to her supervisors.” Additionally, the restaurant group was “accused of violating the state’s Whistleblower Act.” The lawsuit itself was filed in Cook County Circuit Court back in June, and though the details surrounding the settlement have not be disclosed, Griffith’s lawyer, Jonathan Lubin, said the case “settled to the satisfaction of both parties.” But what happened to lead to the case being filed in the first place?
According to Griffith, after working as an office manager at Saranello’s, an Italian restaurant in Wheeling, for more than two years, she began getting harassed in April of 2016. But what did the harassment look like? Well, according to the lawsuit, Griffith was asked by a chef “to write a character reference for him bearing the signature of a top company executive for use in a court proceeding.” She declined because “she believed she was being asked to make false statements to the court.”
Additionally, she also alleged in the suit that she was “asked to help the company backdate paperwork to avoid government penalties and to help the company hire workers who didn’t have legal permission to work in the United States.”
According to her lawyer, Lubin, “She was asked to backdate paperwork that had not been completed on time. The paperwork had to do with I-9 compliance.” For those who don’t know, Form I-9 is used to “verify the identity and employment authorization” of people hired to work in the U.S.
Upon refusing to carry out the tasks, “the chef, a supervisor, began yelling at her and harassing her.” On one occasion, he even shouted at her for not giving him cash from the restaurant register “so he could pay a worker,” something she refused to do because she “believed he wanted the cash partly to avoid having to report the payment to the Internal Revenue Service.”
Shortly after refusing to carry out the tasks, she “complained to a personnel worker about the hostile environment the chef was creating,” which effectively resulted in the chef making “false and scurrilous accusations about her work performance,” according to the lawsuit.
In addition to the false accusations, the lawsuit claimed that “Lettuce Entertain You began threatening to move Griffith’s office to a section of the restaurant” that would hinder her ability to do her job, and later in 2016 she was placed on “a performance improvement plan, a step toward terminating her.” In October she was fired.
Fortunately, Griffith pushed back and filed the lawsuit against Lettuce Entertain You, resulting in the recent settlement.