Male waiters feed row

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The Independent Online

New York

Whether she actually noticed is uncertain but, when Hillary Clinton attended a lunch given in her honour at the Metropolitan Museum in New York this summer, those fancy waiters gliding around her had something in common: they were all men.

The all-male service was hardly unusual. In a strange kind of carry-over from the butler and footman culture of the British aristocracy, Manhattan society prefers to have male waiters at their expensive catered parties.

Not everyone is impressed, however. One of the city's most favoured catering companies, Glorious Foods - which has a client list that includes David Rockefeller and, until her death, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis - is being sued by a former employee on grounds of sex discrimination. The suit has been filed on behalf of Jessica Weigmann, 31, by the American Civil Liberties Union.

It was the Clinton lunch that finally lit the fuse in Ms Weigmann. No women were assigned to wait the First Lady's table. "Here's this great women's rights advocate and she is being served by all men," Ms Weigmann complained.

The suit alleges that until recently Glorious Foods specifically invited prospective clients to tick options on the standard order forms, "Women OK?" or "Male Waiters Only". A co-owner of the company, Sean Driscoll, was quoted yesterday as dismissing the allegations as "bull". He added: "There isn't any sexual discrimination issue that goes on at Glorious Foods".