Twenty-two former employees of Juventino, the farm-to-table restaurant on Fifth Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets, have started a website in which they accuse owner Juventino Avila of inappropriate advances towards the female wait staff.
The site, Juventino Disclosed, details the experiences of the former workers, who claim to have "experienced an intolerable level of abuse" from Avila. The environment behind the scenes at the restaurant is so toxic, they claim, that "17-hour workdays without breaks are expected, and at its most despicable, young women are subjected to unwanted sexual advances behind the closed and locked doors of Juventino’s office."
Jezebel has published a lengthy feature in which they lay out many of the individual allegations. They also speak with Avila, who denies any wrongdoing. "If I have done something, I'm guilty of being aggressive and strong minded," he told the blog. "[Sexual harassment] is something I would never condone or be a part of. I know it's common at restaurants, but I don't accept it." Juventino's owner, Rebecca Uberti (who has also lived with Avila since 1996), calls the allegations "detailed lies from disgruntled employees who may or may not have been terminated for poor job performance."
The former employees claim that the purpose behind their site is to raise awareness of what they allege has been transpiring, and to give a voice to all restaurant workers who have been in similar situations.
"In a community concerned with workers’ rights and conscious consumerism," they write, "we feel it is only fair to enlighten you to an environment that exists in your very neighborhood."