VIP Hostess Sues, Claiming Club's Loud Music Harmed Hearing

Monday, 25 Feb 2013 01:56 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A former VIP hostess at a high-end New York nightclub has sued the joint, claiming the thunderously loud music played there caused her serious hearing loss.

Margaret Clemente says her bosses at Lavo in Midtown Manhattan repeatedly ignored her complaints that the music was too loud, denied her requests to be moved to a less noisy section, and pressured her to leave when she told them she was going nearly deaf in one ear, according to the New York Post.

Clemente worked at the club for two years, earning $42 an hour and up to $500 a night in tips. Now, she said, she's having trouble finding another job in the nightlife business because of the damage to her hearing.

"I'm depressed. It's been daunting," Clemente told the Post. "I'm stressed out and distraught."

Clemente said she went to an audiologist who confirmed she had "extreme difficulty hearing," according to the suit, but her bosses still wouldn’t give in to her requests. Clemente eventually quit after management began "acting out against her," the suit says.

"When I talk to people, it sounds like mumbling," Clemente told the Post. "I really struggle to hear."

The suit argues that Lavo's management refused to supply its employees with earplugs even after Clemente and other staffers requested them. The nightclub owners only provided hearing protection after a New York Times report in July revealed the dangerously high decibel levels at area restaurants and clubs and, even then, the earplugs were cheap foam ones while the owners themselves had high-end custom-made earplugs.

The Times report said that Lavo averaged a noise level of 96 decibels over the course of an hour, or as loud as a power mower. According to government standards, employers are required to provide workers with ear protection when exposing them to noise at that level for three and a half hours or more.

"We definitely consider those levels able to cause damage and likely to cause permanent damage with repeated exposure," Laura Kauth, an audiologist and president of the National Hearing Conservation Association, told the Times. "They're experiencing industrial level noise."

Lavo management has not commented on the suit.

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