A New Jersey restaurant is the subject of two new legal cases.
Nine employees have filed a lawsuit in Sussex Superior Court in New Jersey alleging Mohawk House, a steakhouse in Sparta, and its owner, Steve Scro, of sexual harassment. The suit contends Scro repeatedly grabbed and groped both male and female employees and asked females to “dress sexy” and “show cleavage to make more money.” At the same time, the steakhouse has filed a separate lawsuit, alleging staff member, James Kruzelnick, engaged in a defamation scheme against the restaurant.
One plaintiff in the sexual harassment suit said Scro touched her “vaginal area.” The men suing Scro and the Mohawk House claimed he smacked their butts. Kruzelnick said Scro discriminated against him for his sexuality, “calling him gay slurs and asking if had HIV.” The former employee was terminated and believes the move was made out of retaliation. Following the firing, Kruzelnick was sued for “concocting a scheme to post negative reviews.”
The harassment filing reads, “Over the years, while (Steve) Scro unapologetically sexually abused his employees and discriminated against them, he would continuously remind them that in Sparta, he had close connections with many powerful people, including the Sparta police department, judges and local politicians.” However, an attorney for Mohawk House responded, “The allegations against Scro and the restaurant were drafted to generate media coverage.”
Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash
The suit against Kruzelnick references violations of the state’s RICO Act. The act is typically reserved for organized crime entities involved in racketeering, which it defines as including “bribery, extortion, forgery and fraudulent practices, securities fraud, and all crimes set forth in chapter 21 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.”
Stephen J. Edelstein, attorney for Mohawk House, stated of the harassment litigation, “Mohawk House has been an anchor in the community for more than 15 years, with many of the over 45 staff having worked there for over five years or more. This retaliatory lawsuit was initiated by a former employee who repeatedly turns to the courts with outrageous accounts intended to result in a big payday. The other employees’ complaints were investigated and determined to be without any basis. We look forward to the facts emerging.”
This statement hinted at a previous lawsuit brought by Kruzelnick against former Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano, an analyst for Fox News network. In both cases, he is represented by the firm Joseph & Norinsberg, based in Manhattan. In the Napolitano suit, Kruzelnick insisted the judge “groped him,” and “grabbed his buttocks,” saying, “You are just so hot.” Kruzelnick also alleged Napolitano told him he “fixed cases” and the plaintiff believed he “would have to continue to perform sexual favors for Napolitano if he wanted Napolitano to help out his (incarcerated) brother.”
Bennitta Joseph and Jon Norinsberg of Joseph & Norinsberg said the lawsuit against Kruzelnick was “nothing more than Scro’s misguided attempt to bully and intimidate Mr. Kruzlenick into silence.” They added in their joint statement, “Scro’s claims of retaliation are an attempt to paint himself as the victim, “when in fact, he is being held accountable for his abhorrent and reprehensible actions.”
Mohawk House and former employees trade lawsuits
Former staff say owner of esteemed N.J. restaurant harassed, groped them