Former servers suing over tips say they're being harassed

by: David Ham Updated:


SEATAC, Wash. - Nine former servers at Galliano's Cucina in Tukwila and SeaTac are in the process of suing  owners Mario and Erum Galliano over stolen tips.

 Some of the former servers said the lawsuit has taken a bizarre twist.

 One of the former employees filed a restraining order against Mario Galliano.

 "He was raising his voice and just the tone of his voice was just really scary to me," said former server Bryana Sayavong, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

 She said during a deposition, Mario Galliano started asking inappropriate questions.

 "He asked about my sexual fantasies and desires from my attorney which I thought was completely wrong.  Because he's a 40-year-old man, three kids and a wife and I’m a 19-year-old female," Sayavong said.  "He asked about my parents ethnicity, their skin color, if I was a racist."

 Sayavong also said that Galliano raised his voice and even threatened her family.

 "He was harassing my family and he threatened to shut down their business if he didn't  give them any personal information about me," said Sayavong.

 Noelle Knipp is one of the former servers who said she believes about 70-75 percent of her tips were withheld since she worked there in January.

 "How could they do that to people?  What kind of cold-hearted person could do that to someone, just knowing they steal from their employees that work their butt off for them in their business?" said Knipp, who quit last week.

 Knipp said the tips were supposed to be split evenly between servers and kitchen staff.

 "My sole intent from this lawsuit is just to get back the money they stole from me," said Knipp.

 We went to ask Galliano about the allegations at his restaurant in Tukwila and SeaTac.  An employee told us that he was not available.

 A few minutes later, SeaTac police arrived at the restaurant and said that Galliano had called them asking for a trespass order against us.

 When asked about the allegations when we first reported the story in August, Galliano declined an on-camera interview.  But over the phone said the claims are baseless and the suit was brought forth by a group of disgruntled employees.

 The employees also allege that they were not allowed to go home if they were sick, they were not allowed to take breaks, and they even had to ask permission to use the restroom.

 "The owner wanted us to call him and let him know that we were using the restroom, and as a woman, I did not want to call him and let him know i I was using the restroom," said Knipp.

 Galliano said those allegations are false.

 The temporary restraining order against Galliano will be in effect until Jan. 27.

A judge will then decide if the order will be extended for a full year.