Assaulted at Work

On May 1, 2008, I walked into at the restaurant on 17th and Wazee where I am a hostess and was immediately told by a co-worker that George Mitrovich was coming in and he wasn’t going to be happy. He is some hideous, self-important, aging, former politico who heads up the Denver Forum. He regularly holds little dinner meetings at the restaurant. He is widely known in the restaurant industry for terrorizing staff members. He makes servers cry and unleashes his venom upon anyone that doesn’t submit to his control. He is actually banned from the Oxford Hotel due to his obnoxiously rude behavior which is directed toward staff.

“Lovely,” I thought, “and I get to deal with him.”
I looked at the reservation board and discovered the source of our problems. George is used to getting “his” room and the Catering Department booked a different party in the room. McCormick’s has several side rooms which can be booked for private events for a fee. George never pays the fee and just expects to get “his” room. Nine times out of ten it is available but that night it wasn’t. I had the busser/table setter person set up a table for George in the Plum Room.

The room George expects is called the Governor’s Room. When George arrived the other party was already occupying the Governor’s room. I was in the kitchen when George arrived and a server showed him to his table. I caught his eye as I briskly walked past the entry way to the room. I could tell he was fuming mad. The telephone was ringing and I had guests waiting but George didn’t care. He rudely motioned for me to join him in the Plum Room. He said, “This is not going to work, we have a serious problem here.” I explained to him that the other group paid for their reservation in advance and it was out of my control. I offered to get a manager for him. He walked toward me and said, “I am extremely unhappy, and you are going to get the brunt of it.” As he said it, he thumped me so hard on the chest three times that he left red marks. Shocked, I stepped back away from him and told him there was nothing I could do and suggested he speak to a manager. He kept talking at me and his vicious words took on a louder tone. By now there was a line at the door and all three phone lines were ringing. I told George that I had to get back to my job and he quipped, “You just don’t care about me at all, fine, fine, just go…”

As I got to the host stand, my ‘Manager on Duty’ finally waltzed by and I urgently motioned for him to attend to George. I carried on with my job. Moments later George slinked up to the Host Stand and said to me, “I hate to be argumentative. We are all friends here,”
I interrupted him with, “If you hate to be argumentative then don’t argue with me. You are not very friendly when you are yelling at me.”
He looked astonished and replied, “If I were yelling at you, you’d know it.”
I replied, “No, George, when you are yelling at me you should know it.”
At that he crouched down, put his face very near mine, and sneered at me, “You’d better watch yourself.” Then he turned on a dime and stormed off.

One of my co-workers noticed I was visibly upset and asked me what happened. I told him everything. He went into the kitchen and told the other manager and the chef. The chef came out immediately to see if I was ok and find out exactly what happened. The managers did nothing; they did not escort him out or even reprimand him for his behavior. They allowed me to be assaulted and threatened for the price of a dinner.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I knew my managers were not going to take care of the problem as they had said they would. I called my friend the D.A and asked his advice. He convinced me to press charges so I called the police and gave them my statement.

Days later, my General Manager apologized to me for what happened and the Director of Catering tried to sweep it under the rug. She said, “You just don’t know George. He is just like that.” She also tried to get me to drop the charges, at one point saying, “George has spent 40 years building his reputation.” To which I curtly replied, “So have I.”

Over the past two months I have never been contacted by the City Attorney’s office until this week. Victims’ Advocacy did call me twice to tell me the case was continued. Ms. Smith, from the City Attorney’s Office called today and wanted to hear my side of the story. I told her the short version and although she finds his behavior appalling and reprehensible, she doesn’t think she can get the charges to stick. Obviously, assault and threats are not important to the City of Denver.

The bastard is going to get away with his nasty behavior again. He has a free pass and I have anxiety and insomnia. She said touching is not illegal, and I said to her, “It wasn’t polite touching; it was aggressive assault at my place of employment followed by a threat.” I asked her how she would feel and she agreed that she would not feel very good about it or about her work if that happened to her. I also expressed my grave disappointment in being completely let down by the system which is supposed to protect the victim but all too often, and in this case, protects the criminal.

Ms. Smith did suggest that my employer is at fault for not protecting me and the rest of the staff from this man and for not stepping up and escorting him from the restaurant when he did assault me. His previous bad behavior is a very strong indicator of his current and future disposition to bad behavior. She suggested contacting the EEOC and an attorney about a civil suit and damages. I tend to agree with her. I feel as though I set up for this situation, thrown to the wolf, and made out to be the bad guy. The way they let it happen, George would be angry with me, take it all out on me, and not be angry with the managers or the catering department who gave away “his” room.

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