A former Versailles restaurant worker has filed a discrimination and harassment lawsuit that includes sordid allegations of sexual misconduct by Versailles' Felipe Valls Sr.
According to the lawsuit, filed this past August 29 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Ayler Ayala was a cashier at Miami International Airport from May 15, 2010, until March 10, 2013. Prior to that, Ayala was employed as a cashier at the Cafeteria at Versailles Cuban Restaurant, owned and/or operated by members of the Valls family.
The suit names Global Concessions Inc., Gateway Airport Concessions Inc., and Airport Concessions Group Inc., all d/b/a Global Miami Joint Venture, as defendants. Strangely, the Versailles patriarch is not listed as a defendant.
The court document states that during her part-time employment at Versailles in January 2005, Felipe Valls Sr. would visit her at work, order a Cuban pastry that costs about $1.50, and "routinely pay for the tab and place a $100.00 bill in Plaintiff's pocket." Valls Sr. then began to invite Ayala to meet him during nonworking hours to discuss her "future" and "dreams."
According to the lawsuit, Valls Sr. and Ayala began to have an "extremely sordid" sexual relationship that:
... included having Ms. Ayala engage in sexual relations with Mr. Valls, requesting that Ms. Ayala engage in sexual relationships with another female Valls Group employees at the "Miami Princess" hotel, photographing and videotaping Ms. Ayala naked and in sexually explicit poses, and engaging in sexual relations with Ms. Ayala in a secret room at the back of Mr. Valls' private office in the restaurant that contained a bed and bathroom and was littered with sex toys and sex paraphernalia. Ms. Ayala thus was and is well aware that Mr. Valls followed this modus operandi with other female victims.
In 2008, Ayala ended her relationship with Valls. He "sought to resume the sexual relation with Plaintiff, but Plaintiff refused." Ayala was terminated from her employment with Versailles at the end of 2009 but was offered a job as cashier with the defendant, Global Concessions Inc. According to the lawsuit, the Valls family "at all relevant times, had and maintained ownership and operating interests in Defendant, specifically in one of Defendant's joint venture partners, Global Concessions Inc."
In 2012, Felipe Valls Jr. and one of his daughters, Nicole Valls, discovered that Ayala was still employed by a family-owned entity. "Thereafter, Plaintiff was subjected to relentless and continuous acts of harassment," including "harassing and obscene comments such as referring, in front of Plaintiff to Hispanics as 'Fucking Latins,' and telling Plaintiff to speak only English because her paychecks were written in English, not Spanish."
In February 2013, Ayala suffered an "emotional breakdown" at work resulting in "Fire Rescue being called and treating Plaintiff." She then resigned from her position.
Ayala is seeking lost back pay and benefits; reinstatement of her duties; compensatory damages for severe emotional distress, mental pain and anguish, humiliation, and loss of dignity; punitive damages; and attorney's fees.
Ayala is also a witness in a Whistleblower Retaliation and Defamation Lawsuit filed against Versailles and its owner, Valls Sr., in March 2014. The complaint -- filed on behalf of former Versailles general manager Rigoberto Hernandez and former waiter Adriam Mena -- claims the restaurant engaged in hiring undocumented workers, sexual-orientation harassment, and wage and hour violations.
Lawyers Victor Diaz and Rey Velazquez of Global Miami JV issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
Not only is this lawsuit baseless and devoid of any merit, it is a blatant attempt by a former disgruntled employee to use the court system to improperly extract money from an employer through salacious, ludicrous and irrelevant allegations.
Ms. Ayala was employed from May 2010 until March 2013 - when she voluntarily resigned her position as a cashier at an airport restaurant managed by Global Miami J.V. While employed, she was repeatedly disciplined for being late to work, skipping work altogether and conducting personal business on company time. She resigned her position voluntarily after being issued a final disciplinary warning.
During her employment, Ms. Ayala never raised any allegations of harassment on the job because of her Hispanic origin. She first made the allegations in her voluntary resignation form, which she filled out four days after her last day at work and after two days of unauthorized absences
Ms. Ayala filed her complaint of national origin discrimination with the appropriate agency of the federal government, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and GMJV vehemently contested and continues to deny her allegations. After a year of the EEOC claim being filed, she received no finding of any probable cause.
She now has filed this frivolous lawsuit claiming national origin discrimination repeating the same frivolous allegations and has included irrelevant, new allegations about her past employment - during which she never filed a complaint of any sort.
Global Miami J.V. has a work force of 623 employees, of whom 90 percent -- 561 employees -- are Hispanic. The company's senior management - and its owners - are predominantly Hispanic. It is ludicrous on its face to allege that the company would tolerate any discrimination against Hispanics or allow a manager to use profane and discriminatory language in addressing any of its employees.
Global Miami J.V. has a very strict, written anti-discrimination policy and empowers employees who have any work-related issues to bring their concerns to management or to the human resources department. Significantly, Ms. Ayala never contacted anyone in the company to voice concerns prior to her resignation.
As to the allegations by Ms. Ayala that during her previous employment years ago she had a consensual sexual relationship with Mr. Felipe Valls Sr. in exchange for promises of gifts and money, this is nothing but a slanderous and viciously scurrilous attack against Mr. Valls Sr. in order to draw news media attention to a meritless, frivolous and otherwise unremarkable lawsuit. It is significant to note that Ms. Ayala never filed any claims against her previous employer for this alleged conduct at that job, which she left years ago.
By including these extraneous allegations in her complaint now, Ms. Ayala is characterizing herself as someone who would willingly compromise herself in exchange for potential monetary gain. It's salacious and scandalous. However, it's irrelevant.
These allegations are included for only one purpose: use the potential embarrassment value to attempt to procure an unwarranted monetary settlement.
This case is wholly without merit, as will be demonstrated in a court of law.