A Mother's Day incident at the legendary Quincy Market eatery left one worker facing criminal charges, another quitting in tears and the restaurant facing possible disciplinary action by the Boston Licensing Board.
At a licensing-board hearing today, restaurant managers and waitresses acknowledged an oyster shucker routinely grabbed female employees, none of whom informed management - until Mother's Day, when police arrived to investigate a report the man had grabbed one waitress by the buttocks and then grabbed her again after she told him to stop and punched him at least twice.
Restaurant manager Seana Kelley vowed to keep it from happening again. The worker was fired and Kelley hired an outside human-resources firm to investigate the attack and to train restaurant staffers on sexual harassment and appropriate workplace behavior.
According to a police report, the oyster shucker had "a history of grabbing ass." That account was confirmed by two waitresses who testified before the board today - both of whom acknowledged they had never reported the activity.
All agreed Durgin-Park had what one of them called "a lot of that flirty interaction going on in the entire restaurant," which included touches, massages and, in at least this guy's case, ass grabbing.
That waitress, who said she observed part of the 1 p.m. incident, said "initially it just seemed like typical everybody flirts."
According to waitress and police accounts, the oyster shucker came from behind his station, grabbed the waitress - a college student majoring in hospitality management - by the buttocks and gave a squeeze.
"They were kidding around and I saw [the waitress] hit him on shoulder and then his arm went down to her backside and then she said 'Don't touch my ass," another waitress testified. "It stopped being kidding around."
When one waitress acknowledged getting touched inappropriately by the man in the past and then not reporting it, board Chairman Nicole Murati Ferrer asked why. The waitress she just didn't know.
A third waitress, older than the other two, said the man never touched her. "Maybe 40 years ago," she said, which provoked laughter among several men in the audience, waiting for other hearings.
"It doesn't matter," Ferrer told her. "You're still an attractive woman. I don't know why anyone over there is laughing."
Neither the waitress herself, nor the man - who faces a charge of indecent assault and battery - attended the hearing.
The board meets Thursday to consider what action, if any, to take. Ferrer told the waitresses they should immediately report any more harassment to managers - but that if they feel uncomfortable doing that, let the board know.