“All I can say is, the matter is resolved,” Dallas attorney John E. Wall Jr. said Thursday. “The case is over. ”
Wall joined the case months after it was initially filed. He served as the attorney for the former employee who filed suit, alleging she was subjected to sexual harassment by Romano.
He declined to give any details, adding “I don’t want to do anything to cause any upheaval in the resolution of this issue. It needs to be long gone in everybody’s mind. It doesn’t need to be resurrected.
“For everybody’s benefit, I think this needs to go away.”
Asked if he was satisfied with the outcome, Romano said Thursday. “I didn’t get extorted. There was no extortion, so I’m happy about that.”
His attorneys and the worker could not immediately be reached for comment.
A Dallas County court order filed Feb. 28 states that “the court, [has] been advised by the parties that all matters in controversy between [them] have been fully and finally settled and compromised…
“‘It is therefore ordered that the above-referenced cause be, and it is hereby, dismissed with prejudice in its entirety, with each party to bear their costs of court.”
Dismissed with prejudice means the same case cannot be brought again.
Ichel Cook, a former assistant manager at the Oak Lawn location of Eatzi’s Market & Bakery filed suit in July 2016, stating that the founder of Eatzi’s and chains including Fuddruckers and Romano’s Macaroni Grill, touched her butt during a work meeting. The incident was caught on tape.
She filed a similar suit against Eatzi’s last August. That suit also is marked “closed” in court records.
In her suits, filed in Dallas County, Cook said she was retaliated against after she reported the incident to human resources. She said her duties were changed and she was terminated effective Nov. 16, 2016.
The initial suit came more than a year before revelations about disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein launched the #metoo movement that swept across a variety of industries, including restaurants with celebrity chefs John Besh in New Orleans and Mario Batali in New York.
Cook, a Dallas County resident, began working for Eatzi’s as a shift manager in 2012, according to court documents. In 2015, Cook was promoted to the position of assistant general manager.
On April 7, 2016, Cook was attending a managers’ meeting at the front counter of Eatzi’s when Romano entered.
“While walking behind Ichel Cook, Phil Romano stuck his hand in Cook’s gluteal cleft from behind,” according to Cook’s petition and application for a temporary restraining order.
“Cook immediately turned around to see who had done the unthinkable,” according to the petition. “Upon realizing it was Romano, Cook turned away to avoid escalating the situation.
“Phil Romano then grinned, walked several feet past Cook, turned around, and stared back at Cook,” the document said.
He later told Cook, “I thought you were just one of the guys,” court documents said.
Romano Thursday declined to discuss details of the case, and referred calls to his attorney.
In its legal response, Eatzi’s said Cook “has not been subjected to any adverse employment actions.”
“All decisions relating to the employment of [Cook] were made in good faith and based on reasonable factors,” Eatzi’s said in its response.
As the case progressed, Wall replaced Luis P. Bartolomei of The Bartolomei Firm, according to court records. The attorney named in the initial filing was Ramez F. Shamieh, who also listed The Bartolomei Firm. Neither could be reached for comment.
Early filings indicated Cook was seeking at least $1 million to cover monetary damages, ” lost earnings and employee benefits” and “reinstatement to [her] former position of employment.”
Asked if Cook was coming back to Eatzi’s, Romano said, “she’s welcome to if she wants.”