Employees file complaint against ‘colorist to the stars’
GREENWICH — A self-proclaimed “colorist to the stars” and members of her management team are facing a legal complaint that employees at her salons were subject to discriminatory and harassing behavior.
Sharon Dorram Color, which operates from a salon on Greenwich Avenue and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is the subject of complaints filed with the New York City Human Rights Commission last week.
A 27-year-old hair colorist, Matt Ustaev, had been working several times a month as a colorist at Dream Day Spa and Salon on Greenwich Avenue through Sharon Dorram Color. In the complaint filed with the human rights commission, he says he was subject to “anti-Semitic comments” by a manager at the New York salon.
Ustaev, who is Jewish, says he was called a “stupid Jew” and taunted with other nasty remarks. He says he was retaliated against by management for supporting another co-worker bringing a claim of discrimination, who also contacted workplace-safety authorities. His hours in Greenwich were substantially curtailed and then zeroed out, Ustaev says.
The New York City complaint says Ustaev recorded a conversation in April with management after he had hired a lawyer, asking him to drop his discrimination claim in exchange for more bookings as a colorist.
Another complaint, specific to the Upper East Side location, was filed by Ingrid Sandoval, 22, a receptionist. She says in her complaint that Dorram forced minority workers to wear their hair up while their white co-workers didn’t have to. Two complaints were filed with the New York City Human Rights Commission last year over that alleged policy. After that, employees were asked to sign affidavits that all employees were subject to the policy, the plaintiffs contend. The complaints filed last month state that punishment was directed at employees who did not sign. Sandoval was later terminated in October 2017.
Patrick Boyd, an attorney representing Sandoval and Ustaev, said the purported use of coercive tactics was a major part of the complaint. “Disrespect for the process, it’s a pretty big deal,” he said.
A lawyer representing Dorram, Carolyn Richmond, issued a statement: “The salon will not comment on any specific employee or complaint. However, I can say that it has always been the policy of Sharon and the salon to follow equal employment laws.”
Dorram, who has a residence in Greenwich, did not return messages seeking comment this week. Her clients have included Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson, and the complaint has drawn the attention of New York media.
The complaint filed in New York City Human Rights Commission is a first step in the process. That commission can impose penalties on its own.
Future lawsuits could also be filed at the federal or state level, Boyd said. For a federal lawsuit to be filed, a complaint at the municipal level is essential to the legal process. No legal filings have been submitted in Connecticut.
Ustaev has still been working for the hair-care company, though his hours have been limited, according to his lawyer.
The complaint is seeking lost wages emotional damages, punitive damages and attorney fees. A dollar amount was not specified.