A hostess has filed a lawsuit against celebrity hotspot Nobu Malibu alleging harassment, sexual assault and battery, and retaliation. The lawsuit, filed by one Jane Doe, alleges a former supervisor by the name of Marcus made sexually offensive comments and inappropriately touched the plaintiff and other staffers.
Nobu Malibu allegedly did little to protect its workers from unwelcome sexual advances, according to Doe, due in part to being required to wear “scantily clad black uniforms” as a part of its “please the customer first” mantra. Together with the unwelcome advances and continued harassment from the bar manager, Doe alleges Nobu Malibu fostered a hostile workplace and failed to protect employees despite her attempts to seek remedy with management.
The pricey, waterfront Japanese sushi restaurant in the tony beachside city regularly entertains some of the most famous celebrities in the world, including Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, Lebron James, and Travis Scott. Owned by famous chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert DeNiro and part of a huge global chain of restaurants and hotels, Nobu Malibu is arguably the most popular celebrity restaurant in Los Angeles.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiff and other hostesses are “actively encouraged to flirt with guests and brush off and ignore inappropriate interactions or uncomfortable stares and ogling.” It states further that as a part of its business model, Nobu management allegedly expects “its female hostesses to endure harassment from customers, allowing predators, internal and external, to feel emboldened in abusing hostesses without reproach.” She claims gender-based discrimination and alleges only female employees were required to wear the scantily clad uniforms contributed to unwelcome advances and workplace harassment. The plaintiff’s employment began in June 2020, and she says she was almost immediately targeted by the bar manager, Marcus, who attempted to contact her personal cell phone, according to the complaint.
The plaintiff alleged that in early 2021, Marcus, who had been drinking, grabbed her, restrained her hands, and kissed her neck. The plaintiff also alleged Marcus grabbed her hips and kissed her neck at the hostess stand on another occasion, and would brush up against her buttocks as he walked past. The lawsuit alleges Marcus “excelled at disguising his lecherous behavior by using the excuse of close quarters and confines that Nobu staff often must work in.”
The plaintiff, along with other female hostesses, attempted to complain to the restaurant’s general manager, who allegedly responded that they would investigate. Marcus was terminated in early 2022, but according to Doe the restaurant’s management continued to allow him to visit the premises as a patron.
After Marcus’s termination, the plaintiff alleges Nobu human resources presented the hostesses with a document requiring signature to acknowledge their satisfaction with the restaurant’s investigation. However, the plaintiff claimed no one asked if they felt safe at work or if the investigation actually addressed the complaints. For months after, Marcus continued to frequent Nobu Malibu, leading one of the plaintiff’s coworkers to allegedly have an emotional breakdown, according to the lawsuit. After complaining about Marcus’s post-termination presence at the restaurant, the plaintiff alleges management retaliated by removing her assignments from busier, more desirable weekend shifts. According to Bernard Alexander, the attorney representing the plaintiff, Jane Doe is still employed at Nobu Malibu.
Eater has reached out to Nobu Malibu for comment and will update this story if we receive a response.