The glamorous Malibu outpost of high-end sushi restaurant Nobu is facing a lawsuit after a hostess claimed she was sexually harassed and assaulted there.
The woman, identified only as a 23-year-old Jane Doe, said that she and other hostesses are forced to “dress in skimpy clothes and brush off unwanted sexual advances from managers and patrons” as part of the job at the swanky restaurant, which was founded and is co-owned by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, legendary actor Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper.
In addition, Doe alleges a manager referred to mononymously as Marcus “repeatedly touched her buttocks with his hand while she was working,” Doe’s attorney Bernard Alexander said in a press release.
“On one occasion, the manager restrained both her hands and kissed her neck after he had been drinking,” the release explained. “Jane Doe and other hostesses complained about Marcus’ behavior, and the restaurant eventually terminated him. But he was allowed to return to the restaurant as a customer, forcing hostesses who had complained of his behavior to work in fear of encountering him.”
That behavior was “harassing, nonconsensual, and was based on the Plaintiff’s gender,” as male employees did not have to endure similar conditions, said the complaint, which was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Alexander pointed out that many Hollywood figures who speak out against sexual harassment and abuse frequently dine at Nobu Malibu.
“It’s a frustrating irony that Nobu caters to a Hollywood client list that routinely rallies against and cancels contemporaries who exhibit the same kind of misogynistic and exploitative behavior that Nobu’s managers seem to encourage,” Alexander said in the release. “The plaintiff and other young female hostesses endure outright sexual advances and abuse for the sake of maintaining Nobu’s glamourous reputation and keeping their jobs.”
In fact, it was access to those show business elites that kept Doe coming back to work, the complaint said.
Doe, an aspiring actress, wanted to continue in her role “not only for her steady salary, but also for the reputation that comes with an otherwise desirable job that affords Plaintiff work flexibility and access to captains of the entertainment industry,” the complaint said.
The lawsuit seeks at least $500,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.
Nobu Malibu has not yet returned KTLA’s request for comment.