Popular Italian restaurant takes out ‘help wanted’ ad, gets socked with $5K fine from NYC

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NEW YORK, New York (WPIX) — Not for an instant did Lara Kineavy think a help wanted ad she posted on Craigslist back in July, would land the restaurant she works for in hot water.

“I didn’t really think much about it. (I) just put an ad for hostess/coat check. That’s about it, ” said Kineavy.

“Hostess” was the word that caught the attention of the NYC Commission on Human Rights which monitors such ads.

The Italian restaurant Sistina, a popular Upper East Side staple for more than three decades, is accused of gender discrimination in its ad, and was slapped with a $5,000 fine.

“This is insane to accuse us of something, cause we don’t do that,” said Giuseppe Bruno, owner of Sistina. “At least give us a warning.”

In its complaint, the Commission said it had one of its own employees reply to the ad in two emails with attached resumes—one from a man, the other a woman. The Commission claimed only the woman’s email was opened, but on one specific day—August 22.

“Whether the male’s was opened on that day is in question. But it was 100 percent opened and reviewed,” said Kineavy, who works both as an assistant to the restaurant owner, and hostess.

She said the restaurant didn’t respond to either applicant, because neither was qualified.

The Commission on Human Rights released the following statement:

“In New York City, it is illegal under the Human Rights Law to express a preference for one protected class over another in an employment advertisement. In the Sistina case, Commissioner testers spotted an allegedly discriminatory ad that requested a specific gender to fill a position. The Commission filed a complaint and the case is currently under investigation. It is a normal practice for the Commission to try to settle cases at every stage of the process.”

Bruno vows to fight the fine.

“It was an honest mistake,” he said.

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  • Kenneth Briggs

    so I guess the best thing to say is help wanted, stop within , but at the same time they asked for a waitress , not a waiter . if I want a waitress for the job and that what brings in the trade then who is to say that I have to hire saome dumb ass to chase the trade away ? then the state had better send in the right person in for the job . maybe the state should get them selfrs out and tell the owner how to write the ad up .oh the state for got to fine them for color . so the state had better get out and stay out of this or the state can buy the place out and put who ever the state wants

  • Kat

    so a ‘hostess’ implies female, while ‘host’ would imply male… I would ask what exact word they would like to have used to describe THIS particular position. Seems with something so crazy trivial to fine someone 5K for, the restaurant owner is in a lose/lose position. :-/

  • BD4

    “it is illegal under the Human Rights Law to express a preference for one protected class over another in an employment advertisement”
    So women and men are now each protected classes??? I don’t get it. Waaaayyy overboard. At least warn them and suggest alternative terminology rather than their “gotcha!” approach. This is taking the PC crap way too far.

  • IP: 174.34.753

    I thought it was the individual person that gets to determine what gender they describe themselves??? Who the hell is the state to say that a man can’t wear makeup and refer himself as a waitress or hostess if he, (she), so feels? Or a woman can’t cut her hair and call herself a waiter or host if she, (he), so feels? So really it is that state that is being discriminatory by assuming these words be allowed to denote gender.

  • big john stankus

    More evidence that we are becoming a nation where the government thinks it knows better than we do on how to run our lives and our businesses. We are becoming a nation of wimps.

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