In July 2007, Justin Timberlake and his two friends, Eytan Sugarman and Trace Ayala, created “Southern Hospitality,” a Memphis style barbecue restaurant and bar located in New York’s Upper East Side, according to their website, SouthernHospitalityBBQ.com.
Two years later, a scandalous sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against Southern Hospitality and its owners, which included Justin Timberlake per Radaronline.com. Alison McDaniel, “Southern Hospitality’s” former General Manager filed the sexual harassment suit claiming she was “bullied, degraded, harassed, and ultimately discharged” due to her gender.
McDaniel says she was promoted to General Manager after only being with the restaurant three months. Her salary increased at that point to $75,000. It was not long thereafter that McDaniel states in the lawsuit that sexism became an issue, mostly from Timberlake’s friend and co-owner Eytan Sugarman. Ms. McDaniel claimed that Sugarman “vociferously made his disdain for female managers known.”
Mr. Sugarman’s first venture was back in 1999 when he opened “One 51,” which became one of the most popular hot spot lounges in New York City, according to SouthernHospitalityBBQ.com.
While Southern Hospitality banks on its name to give it the appeal of typical “southern charm,” according to their website, its owners seem to need a lesson in the behavior of true southern gentlemen.
Alison McDaniel went further to say that inappropriate behavior continued at Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality with Sugarman and another employee, Ronnie Kaplan. She claims that the two men watched porn while she was locked in a room with them. McDaniel says the men laughed and made fun of her as she was crying about what was taking place.
Matters continued to escalate as Kaplan allegedly “verbally assaulted McDaniel with a tirade of at least five minutes duration during which he physically bumped McDaniel and screamed and spit in her face,” as written in the lawsuit per Radaronline.com.
Justin Timberlake is named in the lawsuit due to his affiliation with Southern Hospitality. However, Timberlake’s rep released a statement on Justin’s behalf that said, “While Justin and Trace Ayala continue their friendship with Eytan Sugarman who owns ‘Southern Hospitality,’ they are not investors, owners, or partners, nor do they have any knowledge of or involvement in the operations of the restaurant.” per RadarOnline.com.
After a four year legal battle, just prior to this case going to trial, the Supreme Court in New York reported the case had been settled on June 4. Alison McDaniel received a sealed settlement and the case was dismissed. Justin Timberlake can now breathe easier with this behind him.