A once-undocumented immigrant is suing her former boss and employer, Sbarro, over claims that the manager repeatedly sexually assaulted her at the national pizza chain’s location at the Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas. The federal trial alleging sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation got underway in US District Court on Monday.
In court documents obtained by KLAS-TV/Las Vegas, Sandra Perez claimed she was raped on a weekly basis inside the walk-in cooler at the now-closed pizzeria, where she worked in 2016. According to her lawsuit, Perez said she was threatened with being reported to immigration authorities if she did not comply.
Later that year, Sbarro transferred Perez to its Bally’s location, her lawsuit said, after her relatives complained to the manager about the abuse. (According to a deposition from the manager provided in the lawsuit, Perez was having issues “with management and employees” and “needed a fresh start.”)
Confirmation From Equal Rights Commission
In 2018, the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC) confirmed Perez’s allegation of a “sexually hostile work environment,” which allowed her to sue in federal court.
“Evidence obtained during this investigation confirmed [the manager] engaged and promoted a sexually hostile work environment toward Ms. Perez,” the NERC finding said. “It is possible if Ms. Perez’s family members had not confronted the alleged discrimination offenders, it is more than likely Ms. Perez would still be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.”
“You come to a new country, you have to learn a new language, you have to learn a culture,” Perez’s attorney, Jenny Foley, said in an interview with KLAS. “And then you have to try to function within all of that new thing. When something goes wrong in that process, I think it’s particularly horrifying.”
Perez told KLAS: “I am a survivor because I tried to defend myself. Nobody cares. And I’m the example that nobody cares, because I was screaming for help.”
Sbarro Denies All Charges
“Sbarro strongly denies and rejects the claims presented in your interview with Sandra Perez and her attorney, claims which have been disputed over the past six years since the allegations were first presented to us,” David Karam, Sbarro’s CEO, said in an email to KLAS-TV today. “This ongoing dispute has culminated in a trial that is currently taking place in federal court in Las Vegas. We find it very inappropriate and unprofessional to publicly discuss a case in the middle of a trial and therefore we’ll leave our denial to speak for itself.”
Attorneys for Perez filed a motion for a mistrial in the case on Wednesday, according to KLAS, citing claims made in court regarding Perez’s immigration status. Perez said she obtained a green card in 2016.
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