Lynnhurst restaurant pays sexual harassment settlement

LYNNHURST — The owner of popular French restaurant Pierre’s Bistro at 50th Street and Oliver Avenue agreed to pay $18,500 to a former waitress in response to a sexual harassment charge brought against him.

Former waitress Molly Petri, of Linden Hills, charged that Pierre Gardien made comments about her breasts, used vulgar language to refer to women, grabbed her breast and thrust his groin against her body, made obscene gestures simulating oral sex and gave descriptions of his sexual exploits, according to a summary of the case from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The summary said Petri claimed she was fired in retaliation after rejecting Gardien’s sexual advances.

Gardien denied all the charges and claimed Petri was fired because she didn’t show up for work for two weeks, the summary said.

Both Gardien and Petri declined to comment on the case.  

A Department of Human Rights investigation turned up witnesses who corroborated specific allegations against Gardien and evidence showed that his conduct toward Petri and other female employees was “sufficiently pervasive and severe to rise to the level of sexual harassment,” the summary stated. Petri was absent from work for two weeks before she was fired, but evidence showed Gardien knew she had injured her ankle and would be out on medical leave, the summary said.

In a negotiated settlement, Gardien agreed to give $18,500 to Petri and an additional $9,900 to the Department of Human Rights. He also agreed to have no contact with Petri or her immediate family, to take part in counseling about boundaries and inappropriate touching and to attend a minimum of four hours of sexual harassment training for employers.