Tatiana Swiderski, 25, is suing the trendy clothing chain, citing sexual discrimination, claiming honchos and security guards at the store near 43rd Street fail to protect female staffers by putting them in the “line of fire” to be groped and harassed by male customers.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it in New York,” the tall, leggy Los Angeles native told The Post on Monday. “It was my first job here, and I really wanted to make it work.”
In her Manhattan federal court suit, Swiderski claims she was twice “violated” in November 2013 by male customers — including one who “licked her face” while trying to pull down the front of her dress to expose her breasts and another who secretly videotaped up her skirt from below an open, see-through staircase.
She says store managers and security guards not only refused to report the incidents to police — or put in a policy to protect workers from such incidents — but moved her to a cold “unheated” stock room during the winter after she went to the cops.
And when she complained to bosses about the stock-room assignment, she was told “stop complaining because, ‘At least now people can’t molest you,’” states the suit, which was filed Friday.
Swiderski, who lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, claims she’s no longer comfortable “in public” but is banking on the lawsuit being a “great opportunity” to “take some power back.”
“I have a certain terror I never had in LA being out in public, especially alone — even in my own neighborhood at night,” added Swiderski.
Her lawyer, Christopher Van De Water of the Arcé Law Group in Manhattan, said it’s common knowledge that men lurk on nearby couches to watch women walk up the Midtown shop’s staircase.
He also said a female manager told his client that other women staffers had been similarly “violated” and that Urban Outfitters does not have a policy for reporting incidents of such perverted behavior to cops.
The first alleged incident involved a man she claims was caught by a security guard using his cell phone to videotape up her and other female staffers’ skirts as they walked up the staircase.
Swiderski claims the guard told her to keep her mouth shut and not report the incident to cops or store brass — and also bluntly asked, “What are you wearing under your skirt?” the suit says.
When Swiderski ignored the guard and told store manager Christopher Morris, he responded, “It’s a big city, and you’re a pretty girl, what did you expect?”
A few days later, she claims she broke into tears after several shoplifters were “violently” tackled by security and cops were then called to the scene to arrest them.
“I went to the bathroom, and I cried because I felt really hurt that merchandise was more important than what happened to me,” she said.
She says she was “attacked” a few weeks later by a “young” male teen who sought her assistance finding the men’s department.
“He grabbed my face and starting pulling my lip up and screaming at me, like, ‘Let me see your teeth. I want you to smile,’ and then he licked the side of my cheek and mouth,” Swiderski said. “When I pushed away, he took that as an opportunity to grab the front of my dress, pull it down and try to get my chest out.
“I could not make my voice come out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I just turned and ran.”
After fleeing to safety and reporting the attack, the man was “simply escorted out of the store” without further action taken, the suit says.
When she asked why cops weren’t called, a security guard allegedly said the man “was obviously retarded” and warned her that she “could get in trouble” for leaving her working zone in store.
Swiderski later reported the incidents to police herself — only to be told there was nothing they could do because the store didn’t take action or provide them information.
The suit also accuses security guards of unnecessarily patting her down all over her body under the guise that they were conducting routine checks for shoplifted items.
The suit doesn’t name Morris as a defendant but accuses him of sexually harassing Swiderski, including one incident in which they accidentally bumped into each other and he allegedly looked her up and down before “suggestively” saying, “You never have to be sorry for bumping into me like that.”
Morris declined comment, but Urban Outfitters spokeswoman Crystal Carroll issued a statement claiming the company “abhors unlawful discrimination and harassment and has policies which prohibit such conduct in the workplace”
“The company takes these matters very seriously and is currently investigating the allegations made in the complaint,” Carroll added.