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Ex-Workers' Lawsuit Accuses Rosebud of Racism, Sexism, and Harassment

All that and more are detailed in the 15-page federal complaint.

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Rosebud on Taylor
Rosebud on Taylor
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Rosebud Restaurants has been hit with another ugly discrimination suit. This time, two female employees who worked at Rosebud restaurants in Chicago and suburban Schaumburg have lodged complaints alleging racial, sexual and gender discrimination. The complaint details multiple incidents involving humiliating and obscene name-calling, groping and a habitual failure to promote women into positions of leadership.

The attorney for two former employees, Cristina Cortez and Kim Kininmonth, filed the lawsuit on Monday in federal court in Chicago. There's no court date yet, but Judge Harry D. Leinenweber has been assigned the case, said the plaintiff's attorney, Rafael Lazaro: "When we investigated this, we were surprised by the extent of evidence that we found," Lazaro said. "It's incredible that these issues still happen in this society."

Cortez started in 2008 and worked as a Rosebud manager, shuffling between other restaurants in the group, including Carmine's, Balo and Rosebud on Taylor. Kininmonth worked from 2007 to 2008 as a server at Rosebud in Schaumburg. She now lives in Grand Rapids, Mich. Both alleged they were fired because they went to human resources with their complaints. They want recovered wages and punitive damages.

It's a 15-page complaint which can be read at the end of this post, and even includes mentions of sex toys and pornographic magazines. Here's a rundown on some of the key allegations in the lawsuit:

  • Rosebud promotes male employees over women and pays the men more. In one case, a male employee accused of sexual harassment was transferred to another Rosebud location and promoted.
  • Male employees inappropriately touched female employees on the butt and breasts.
  • Human resources neglect to hold men accountable for sexual harassment, allowing free reign for males to comment on female body parts and underwear.
  • Management regularly used racist words to describe African-Americans, Mexicans and sexist words for women.
  • Rosebud fired Cortez after she spoke with HR, lying to her that they eliminated her job due to the economy. They then hired a white man to fill the position.
  • Managers constantly humiliated female workers and told them they wanted to have sex with them in the restaurants.

The lawsuit is backed by declarations submitted to the court by two other former Rosebud employees. There's a history of similar lawsuits against Rosebud, which is also detailed in the complaint. The Italian restaurant group has been accused of age discrimination and a CEO was fired for questioning discriminatory practices. Another employee accused Rosebud of firing her after she was pregnant.

Here's a statement attributed to Rosebud VP/Chief Marketing Officer Helen Carol Koepke in response to the lawsuit:

"Rosebud Restaurants have built a reputation for honesty and integrity in all aspects of its business. For over 40 years, we have taken great pride in fostering a safe and respectful workplace for all employees. We have not and will never tolerate harassment in any form. This alleged incident took place in 2008 and the person accused in this incident is no longer with the organization."

Read the complaint and the declarations supporting the complaint below.

Rosebud Complaint Final

Rosebud Signed Declarations


1500 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 942-1117 Visit Website