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Central Park Boathouse Restuarant Rife with Sexual Harassment, Report Says

By Amy Zimmer | June 8, 2011 10:22am | Updated on June 8, 2011 11:15am

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — Supervisors at Central Park's upscale Boathouse Restaurant allegedly treated the place like their personal meat market, pressuring female employees for sex, groping them at work, and showing them nude photos of other women, according to sexual harassment and discrimination complaints filed last week. 

One manager allegedly made female workers view naked cell phone photos of women he claimed to have had sex with, and fondled the breast of a female waitress one day, according to the complaint filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by six current and former workers, the Daily News reported.

"This same manager kept calling me after work and insisted I go out with him," former banquet waitress Alejandra Betancur told the News. "I refused and told him I was married. He later became angry when he learned I was pregnant."

That manager then assigned her to the most physically grueling jobs to get her to quit, she told the paper.

Though several workers said they complained about the hostile work conditions, they said no action was taken.

A spokesman for the Boathouse restaurant's owner, Dean Poll, told the News, "all employees are aware of the Boathouse's zero tolerance policy concerning sexual harassment."

The spokesman added that the Boathouse had not been informed of the complaints.

The famous restaurant, which operates under a contract with the Parks Department, has been battling with employees over the last several years.

In 2007, City Comptroller Bill Thompson found that Poll had underreported more than $2.3 million in revenue, including more than $1.3 million in expenses claimed for banquet tips but never paid to its staff.

This year, the iconic eatery has been the site of several union protests.

The New York Hotel Trades Council union said Poll had fired workers who supported the union's attempts to organize the restaurant and that he threatened to close if the staff unionized.

The Boathouse's lawyer had called those charges "frivolous," saying the union was using the protests as a way to force its will on employees.

Because of its allegedly checkered employment history, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the National Organization for Women are calling on the Parks Department to revoke Poll's contract for the restaurant.

"The city of New York should not be in business with employers that harass women. Period," de Blasio said in a statement. "There is a pattern of abuse here that gives the city ample grounds to seek out another operator to manage this franchise in a legal and responsible way."