A Jewish deliveryman who suffered years of anti-Semitic abuse at the hands of his coworkers and supervisors has had his day in court - successfully suing his employers to the tune of $900,000.
57 year-old Adam Wiercinski, of Washington Heights, worked at the Mangia 57 restaurant in New York for sixteen years. During that time, a jury heard, he was tormented ceaselessly by anti-Semitic members of the mostly Polish staff at the restaurant, including his night-shift manager Artur Zbozien, according to the New York Post.
Zbozien, the jury was told, regularly "passed gas" in front of Wiercinski and taunted him, saying "See, this is your Zyklon B, you stupid Jew."
Zyklon B was the gas used by the Nazis to murder million of Jews in gas chambers at death camps, including the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau.
That abuse hit home particularly hard for Wiercinski, whose own family was decimated during the holocaust. Only two out of his father's six siblings survived.
"I had to explain to the members of the jury, what is Zyklon B," he said. "Because they were very young; they do not know. When I explain how it was used in the gas chambers, they were very serious. Everybody [in the courtroom] was silent."
His supervisors would regularly dock his tips, and call him a "Jewish pederast". They would sometimes go beyond verbal abuse as well, throwing pennies at him, in a crude allusion to the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as money-hungry, whilst making anti-Semitic jokes.
"They would call him a 'dirty Jew,' and when he would say, 'But I took a bath,' they would laugh and say, 'No, you still smell like Jew,'" according to his lawyer, Matthew Blit.
Blit explained that his client stayed at Mangia 57 in spite of the abuse - which took place between 1992 and 2008 - because he feared he would not find another job.
"He was 50 years old... He said, 'Who else is going to hire a 50-year-old deliveryman?' He was afraid."
But Adam Wiercinski has had the last laugh, winning close to one million dollars in compensation after a three-week trial, which also heard testimony from a number of Wiercinski's "outraged" co-workers, who corroborated his claims.
So how does he feel after his sweeping victory?
"It’s a very happy ending - I’m in another world," he said simply to the Post.
His employers, for their part, deny any anti-Semitism ever took place at the establishment and say they are planning to appeal.