It never ceases to amaze, the bosses who think their female employees are there to be handled like some ripe peach. But she wouldn’t stand for it.
And now a bar owner’s drunken groping of his head server has cost him and his company almost $30,000.
“I am standing for all people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted,” explains De Anna Granés, 33. “I’m speaking up for those who were too afraid come forward.”
Granés worked at Houston Avenue Bar & Grill in Barrie to save for her nursing education. She was good at her job and enjoyed working there. That changed dramatically on Feb. 1, 2014.
A decision from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario released this month details that night.
Co-owner Rajneesh Dutta was sitting at the bar at the start of her 5 p.m. shift and announced that he was going to try every drink on the cocktail menu, Granés told the tribunal. She gently advised her boss that it wasn’t a great idea. As the night progressed, she realized he hadn’t taken her advice.
Dutta was slurring his words, swaying and incoherent, she testified. But worse, he became increasingly “all over her.”
“My back was turned,” she testified, “(he) came up beside me, put his arm on my arm and grabbed my right boob – (it) wasn’t a graze”.
While Granés was using the computer, she told the tribunal that Dutta came up behind her and started pawing her arms, thighs and stomach. She moved to another computer. He followed her around telling her, “At the end of the night we are going to have our own party” and “I want to take you home.”
Granes asked him to stop.
While serving a large party in the lounge, he came up behind her. “He was feeling me, his hands on my thighs, (I) felt embarrassed because I saw people watching,” she testified. “I pushed him aside and walked away.”
He still didn’t get the message.
When Granés went to drop off dishes in the back of the restaurant, she testified that Dutta grabbed her, whispered in her ear and tried to kiss her. She told him to stop.
At the end of the night, when it looked like he was going to drive drunk, she told the tribunal that she grabbed his keys. Dutta pushed her against the wall and grabbed her wrist, she said, while she repeatedly told him he was hurting her. The struggle ended when she threw the keys to a colleague behind him.
Another waitress confirmed to the tribunal Dutta “was drunk, and touchy feely – he put his arms around me, caused me discomfort” but she didn’t think it was a big deal.
“I’ve had a lot worse happen to me,” she later told Granés in a text.
Which is sad in itself.
Granés, for her part, could not brush it off. She was so distraught that she couldn’t drive home and when she returned to work the next day, she had a panic attack and had to leave. She told her father about what happened and they called Barrie Police.
But it was her word against his and no charges were laid. According to the officer who testified at the hearing, Dutta told him he was ashamed of being drunk and unprofessional and pledged not to drink at work again.
Dutta, however, insisted the cop was lying, nothing happened and “he did not have a drop of alcohol” that night. Adjudicator Josée Bouchard said she didn’t find him credible.
When Granés returned to work on Feb. 10, Dutta and the other co-owner asked to speak to her. “We just want to move forward,” she said they told her, “so we want you to put on that pretty little smile of yours and do your job.”
Boors to the end.
Granés quit and after much consideration launched her human rights complaint.
“I’m taking back what’s mine. I’m taking back control of My body and My basic human rights to make My own decisions regarding my body,” she explained in an email. “I’m taking back My happiness.”
And good for her. The tribunal awarded her $20,000 in compensation for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect and $9,440 for lost wages. “When I saw the decision,” she said, “I was at peace.”
As for the restaurant, it closed its doors more than a year ago.