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Barney’s Beanery Host Suing After Alleging He Was Fired For Reporting Sexual Harassment

Cody Rich alleges that at first he had a good working relationship with Kiana Fanning, a female manager, until she started making sexually harassing advances toward him, including leaning in close and having inappropriate physical contact, the suit states.

10:44 AM PDT on July 21, 2023

    A former host at the Pasadena location of the iconic Barney's Beanery restaurant chain is suing the eatery and several managers, alleging he was wrongfully fired in 2022 in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment by a female manager.

    Cody Rich's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges disability discrimination, negligent retention and supervision, and violations of various state wage and hour laws. Rich seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

    A Barney's Beanery representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Monday.

    Barney's Beanery started at an historic site in West Hollywood and now has several locations. Rich was hired as an evening shift host in 2021 at the Pasadena restaurant and disclosed his diabetic condition to a regional manager, who said it would not be a problem, the suit states. Rich also worked some security shifts because he had a wrestling background, according to the complaint.

    Rich at first had a good working relationship with Kiana Fanning, a female manager, until she started making sexually harassing advances toward him, including leaning in close and having inappropriate physical contact, the suit states.

    "Fanning would also take advantage of her position to take the plaintiff to isolated areas of the restaurant on the pretense of needing assistance with work, but in reality to facilitate sexual harassment in a more private setting," the suit alleges.

    Fanning was not deterred by Rich's repeated rejections of her alleged advances, the suit states.

    Rich complained about Fanning to another manager, who told the plaintiff that she had propositioned him also and that Rich should "just go with it" if he wanted to continue working there, according to the suit, which also states that the male manager said that Fanning was often a "little drunk" or had vertigo.

    Fanning again sexually harassed Rich while she was at the bar drinking on her day off, then did the same to another employee before passing out at a table, the suit states. Rich and other employees were told to get Fanning a ride home via a ride-hailing service, the suit states.

    During a subsequent meeting with the general manager, Rich felt more confident something would be done about Fanning's alleged misconduct, but instead, his hours were reduced during an investigation that came up with what the plaintiff was told were inconclusive results due to conflicting accounts given about Fanning's behavior, the suit states.

    Management falsely accused Rich of not timely registering his check-ins and being "drunk on the job," even though the plaintiff explained that he suffered a medical emergency from high blood sugar due to his diabetes, the suit states.

    Rich was fired in June 2022 in alleged retaliation for his sexual harassment complaints. He also maintains he was among many Barney's employees who experienced wage and hour violations, including failure to pay for missed meals and rest breaks and omission to pay minimum wage for all hours worked, including overtime.

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