By LOUISE BOYLE
PUBLISHED: 12:56 EST, 26 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:56 EST, 26 November 2012
- Former waitress Keisi Ballenilla suing prestigious Manhattan sports club
- Employees claim racist language used against staff at $3,000-a-year venue
- NYAC tried to quash details of lawsuit being made public
New York Athletic Club has been slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit as employees reveal the wild partying, racist remarks and brawling which goes on at the exclusive, members-only gym.
One employee and one former worker of the Manhattan sports club have come forward to reveal that members would use the N-word and female employees feared being sexually harassed – but no action was taken by NYAC management against their wealthy clients.
The two men gave sworn testimony in the lawsuit brought by former waitress Keisi Ballenilla against the club, where it costs $8,500 to join and $3,000 a year in fees.
Many employees refused to come forward fearing they would lose their jobs at the elite establishment which sits on the edge of Central Park, according to transcripts seen by the New York Post.
The legal bid paints the club – which was founded in 1868, and boasts 231 Olympic medals won by its members – in a less than decorous light.
Club managers were said to have swept employees’ complaints about inappropriate behavior under the carpet, according to the depositions.
Managers were also complicit in the wild partying and drinking at the club, the suit claims.
Elvis Lopez, who has worked as a security man at the club for seven years, said management and club members discriminated against staff, according to the Post.
Mr Lopez said that employees would be called racial slurs by guests and that one female employee was routinely shown images of half-naked men by guests – but no action was taken.
Miss Ballenilla, who worked at the club for five years, has alleged that she was continually subjected to sexual harassment by managers, singling out one boss Nesim Zuberi in particular.
The New York Athletic Club had tried to keep the lawsuit out of public knowledge with a confidentiality order but it was rejected by a Manhattan court.
MailOnline contacted the athletic club but calls were not returned at this time.
It is not the first time that the club has found itself involved in criminal proceedings.
In April, a rowdy bar-room brawl broke out among members, allegedly over a girl. Beginning in the ‘Tap Room’ bar of the NYAC, the fight resulted in the arrest of three men, with two reported broken noses and ten police being called to cart off the angry fitness enthusiasts.
One witness wrote on the blog WallStreetJackass: ‘It was the best fight I’ve ever seen. Young people, old people, girls, members, non-members, it was a nondiscriminatory ragematch.
‘Not sure the reason but it seemed to be over a girl.’
With no word on why the fight broke out, the club apparently had to deal with ‘glasses thrown’ around the room and a woman cut badly enough to require stitches.
Emergency services did admit that in the early morning hours on April 13 a man with a cut head was transported to New York Downtown Hospital and one other man with unspecified injuries arrived at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
The New York Times reported that when the dust cleared, Peter Doran, 28, and Matthew O’Grady, 31, were arrested and charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment.
Also arrested was Colin Drowica, 30, thought to be a brokerage director who was charged with attempted menacing after he allegedly clutched a security guard’s arm and threatened him.
The club also attempted to keep this embarrassing incident under wraps.
OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALISTS, A GRAND BALLROOM AND DON DRAPER ‘DROPPING BY’: BEHIND THE DOORS OF THE NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB