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Biz News: 2 male former Hooters employees in Costa Mesa file sex-harassment suit

Two male former Hooters employees who were managers at the restaurant chain's Costa Mesa location and others filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit Tuesday against the company and their former boss.

The complaint by Paul Cagnina and Scott Peterson, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims they were repeatedly humiliated and belittled in front of their colleagues at several Hooters locations in California, including Costa Mesa, downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, names Hooters of America and Rick Leukert, former chief executive of West Coast Hooters, as defendants. It also seeks a court order that would force Hooters, known for its scantily clad servers, to end sexual harassment in its workplace.

In a statement Thursday to the Daily Mail, the Atlanta-based company said: "This matter involves a franchised location and its employees in California. We have no independent knowledge of the facts and are therefore unable to comment."

The lawsuit alleges that Leukert threw Cagnina to the ground in the parking lot after a bikini contest in Costa Mesa and forcibly simulated sodomy in front of spectators, according to news reports.

Hooters launched an investigation and fired Leukert a few months later, according to reports.

But Peterson soon was dismissed as well, which his attorney claims was retaliation for complaining about Leukert's conduct.

Cagnina also is no longer employed by Hooters, though the circumstances of his departure are unclear, according to news reports.

Cagnina and Peterson's lawsuit contains a string of allegations of Leukert behaving inappropriately toward employees.

In one instance when Cagnina was named general manager and given an award, the lawsuit claims, Leukert said in front of staff that he told his assistant to write "Pgay" on the award instead of Cagnina's name, P.J.

The suit also claims that during a meeting, Leukert asked Cagnina if he "had been impregnating any Hooter girls lately" and insinuated that he had fathered the baby of a pregnant Hooters employee.

Peterson accuses Leukert in the complaint of touching him inappropriately and making embarrassing sexual references during meetings.

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Grand opening March 19 for Los Olivos Marketplace

Los Olivos Marketplace in Irvine will have its grand-opening celebration from noon to 4 p.m. March 19.

The center is off the 405 Freeway in the 8600 block of Irvine Center Drive.

The opening event will include a playground from Pretend City Children's Museum, yoga, cooking presentations and games.

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Indian restaurant coming to University Center

ADYA, an Indian restaurant, will open its second Orange County location this spring at University Center in Irvine.

"ADYA will be a great addition to University Center, where diners can now find a really rich and diverse range of cuisines," Easther Liu, chief marketing officer for Irvine Co. Retail Properties, said in a statement. "We have everything from contemporary Mediterranean and farm-to-table American to fusion Korean and modern Japanese — and now, a fresh spin on Indian flavors."

The restaurant will be at 4213 Campus Drive, next to Peet's Coffee & Tea. ADYA first opened in Anaheim's Packing District.

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Luther Burbank Savings hires new senior VP

Luther Burbank Savings has hired Tim Sorenson as its senior vice president and director of retail residential lending.

Sorenson will be based at the Irvine office of the Santa Rosa-based bank.

"I'm excited to be here and look forward to a successful relationship with our team and our customers as we aggressively grow throughout California and the western United States," Sorenson said in a statement.

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Irvine-based advisory firm appoints partner

Irvine-based Fieldman, Rolapp & Associates, an independent municipal advisory firm that provides advice and services to public agencies, announced the appointment of Anna Sarabian as partner.

Sarabian, who has been with FRA since 2003, will focus mainly on its city, county and transportation clientele, serving as chief advisor and strategist for financing and investment activities, according to a news release.

She also will take a lead role in helping to drive the firm's growth efforts in Northern California and in other states, the release said.

—From staff reports

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