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Felony's ex-bartender files sex harassment lawsuit

SPRING HILL — A former bartender at Felony's Bar and Grill has filed suit against the owners of the Spring Hill restaurant, claiming she was sexually harassed and then fired when she complained.

According to a complaint filed in Hernando Circuit Court, Amy D. Graham claims two managers made lewd comments and touched her while she worked at the eatery and bar at 7285 Forest Oaks Blvd.

"The plaintiff was terminated because she objected to, and refused to tolerate the illegal working conditions that were well-known throughout the company," the complaint states.

The complaint includes the first names of the two managers accused of harassing Graham, 25. Her attorney, Ronald Fraley of Tampa, confirmed to the Times that one of the managers mentioned is Anthony Alascia.

Alascia, 52, is one of two Spring Hill men arrested in March as part of statewide raid of internet sweepstakes cafes. The other was John Cucciniello, 46.

Neither Alascia nor Cucciniello is listed in state records as owners of Felony's, but their wives, Susan Alascia and Nikki Cucciniello, are owners of Felonies LLC, the parent company named in the suit.

Susan Alascia told the Times her managers investigated Graham's allegations after she filed a separate federal complaint and found no grounds for her claims.

Court records show Felonies LCC was served with a summons in early March, but Susan Alascia said Friday that she was hearing about the suit for the first time from a Times reporter.

"We are prepared to defend this," she said.

Graham's lawsuit claims that Anthony Alascia "constantly" grabbed her buttocks, changed the dress code requiring her to wear shorts, and ordered her to wear a lower-cut shirt "to show some cleavage."

On one occasion, the suit claims, Alascia stuck his hand between Graham's legs and massaged her genitals as she reached behind the bar for some supplies. When Graham once objected to Alascia grabbing her buttocks, he pulled her to him and said, "I'm sorry, I'm just a pig."

The manager identified as "Mike" made sexually offensive remarks, often grabbed and smacked Graham's buttocks, and called her late at night.

"He said 'he knew she was a freak like him and wanted to go get a hotel room,' " the complaint says, noting that a co-worker named Jackie witnessed part of that exchange. The co-worker said Alascia had done the same thing to her, too.

Graham reported the harassment to a manager. According to the suit, the manager said "he could not do anything about Anthony because he was an owner," but "promised to stop the harassment from Mike."

Graham claims the manager later said she would not be able to return to work because she didn't have proof, and she was fired in January.

Susan Alascia said Graham was not fired, but walked out one night and said she would not come back until Mike was fired. Graham added Anthony Alascia's name to her allegations when the inquiry wasn't going fast enough for her, Susan Alascia said.

The general manager interviewed other employees and none of them — including the Jackie referenced in Graham's complaint — corroborated Graham's claims, Susan Alascia said. She said her husband has never worked at the restaurant.

"Most of the times my husband was there, I was with him," she said.

Fraley filed the suit in early March. Defendants named in lawsuits are required to file a response within 20 days. Because Felonies LLC did not, Fraley last week filed paperwork to move the case to the damages phase. A jury would hear Graham testimony and determine how much she should be compensated.

Fraley said plaintiffs like Graham are typically awarded between $100,000 and $250,000.

Fraley filed the suit just before Anthony Alascia and John Cucciniello were arrested and charged with racketeering, keeping a gambling house, fraud and money laundering, among others.

Their Hernando sweepstakes cafes, Allied Affiliates 45 and 52, were at 3270 Commercial Way and 7269 Forest Oaks Blvd., in the same shopping plaza as Felony's. No. 45 had moved about a mile south, to 2402 Commercial Way, by the time agents raided it.

Both men are set to be arraigned on May 7.

Reach Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Felony's ex-bartender files sex harassment lawsuit 05/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 7:28pm]
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