Depravity at LES hotspot The Box not just for show, lawsuits allege
The owner and manager of sexy nightclub the Box allowed “flagrant” drug use at the venue, two former waitresses allege in a new lawsuit — and they even claim one of the honchos encouraged staffers to indulge in cocaine and shots at the club.
The servers also claim in court papers that the employers callously took their tips and gave them to other staff so that the club wouldn’t get in trouble for paying less than the minimum wage.
The Lower East Side hot spot — beloved by Zoë Kravitz, Susan Sarandon, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan, among others — is famous for its wild late-night stage shows that include extremely graphic and often scatological acts.
But the former staffers say owner Simon Hammerstein and chief operating officer Javier Vivas oversaw a toxic environment there.
In separate but nearly identical suits filed in the Southern District of New York, the two women claim that “Hammerstein would frequent the Box and try to get the waitresses to do drugs with him, such as cocaine, and take shots of alcohol.”
Both also claim that “the use of cocaine and illegal narcotics by patrons of the Box was flagrant and not addressed by the Box’s management,” despite pleas from their staff.
Both women’s suits claim the all-female waitstaff was made to “relinquish 60 percent or more” of their tips, which were then doled out “to include the coat-check staff, bathroom attendants” and other workers. Other employees were not made to pool their tips, they claim.
Both say they were told during a meeting that this was “because the minimum wage was increasing and other employees would be given a portion of the waitresses’ tips to increase their wages, so the Box could avoid prosecution from state and federal regulatory authorities.” The women are both represented by lawyer John Zidziunas.
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