Archive for the 'Sexual Harassment' Category

Rosebud Restaurants for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

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Server Was Sexually Harassed and Fired After Complaining About Harassment and Racial Slurs Against African-Americans, Federal Agency Alleges

CHICAGO – Chicago company Rosebud Restaurants violated federal civil rights laws by subjecting a server to sexual harassment and then firing her after she complained about sexual harassment and objected to employees in the company referring to African-Americans by racial slurs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, the EEOC’s pre-suit investigation revealed that Tina Rosenthal, who worked as a server at Rosebud’s now-closed Centro location, was subjected to sexual harassment by another server in 2013. The alleged harassment included unwelcome sexual comments and propositions and touching. Rosenthal complained about the harassment to managers, but Rosebud did not take adequate steps to address her complaints, the EEOC claims.

In September 2013, the EEOC sued Rosebud for failing to hire African-American applicants because of their race. After the EEOC filed suit, Rosenthal, who is white, objected during a company meeting to employees using racial slurs to refer to blacks. A few weeks later, according to the EEOC, Rosebud fired Rosenthal for pretextual reasons.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about or opposing discrimination.

The EEOC’s race discrimination suit settled in May 2017 with a four-year consent decree providing $1.9 million in monetary relief for black applicants who were denied jobs at Rosebud. The decree also required hiring goals for African-Americans, recruiting of black applicants, monitoring of Rosebud’s hiring practices, and training.

The EEOC filed yesterday’s suit against Rosebud after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case (EEOC v. Rosebud Restaurants, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-6815 was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division and assigned to Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan.

“Here, Rosebud was already facing a race discrimination lawsuit, and compounded the problem by firing an employee who objected to racially offensive comments,” said Greg Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “The EEOC takes retaliation very seriously. The employment discrimination protections that Title VII provides are hollow if employees who oppose discrimination face reprisal. We will not let a retaliatory termination go unchallenged.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Sued by EEOC For Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

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Female GM Propositioned and Groped Young Male Employee, Federal Agency Charges

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill violated federal law by allowing a restaurant manager to sexually harass her subordinate and retaliating against him after he reported the misconduct, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, a 22-year-old male shift manager at a Chipotle San Jose store was forced to endure intrusive verbal and physical harassment by his female general manager. In addition to frequently discussing her own sex life and posting a daily “sex scoreboard” in the main office concerning all the staff’s sex lives, the general manager told the young shift manager that she wanted to suck his genitals, watch him have sex with his girlfriend, and engage in a “threesome.” She also frequently slapped, groped and grabbed his privates, the EEOC charged.

Even after he reported her behavior to upper management, the general manager continued to harass him, says the EEOC, and she retaliated against him by instructing employees not to speak to him. Also, he was locked in a walk-in freezer, and his motorcycle was picked up and moved to a different area in the parking lot. Left with no other alternatives, the male employee ultimately quit, the EEOC said.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Case No. 5:17-CV-05382) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for the shift manager and injunctive relief to remedy and prevent sexual harassment and retaliation from recurring at Chipotle.

“This young man’s first real job experience was shaped by a supervisor who abused her authority and created a sexually charged workplace culture,” said EEOC San Francisco Senior Trial Attorney Peter F. Laura. “Federal law requires employers to protect their workers from harassment and sexual abuse, especially in the hands of a manager.”

EEOC San Jose Local Office Director Rosa Salazar added, “Employers must take immediate and effective steps to investigate harassment, no matter whether filed by a male or female employee.” She noted that 16.6% of sexual harassment charges filed with the agency were brought by male workers in FY 2016.

American Queen Steamboat Sued by EEOC for Firing Employee Who Opposed Sexual Harassment

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Cruise Director Fired for Supporting Coworker’s Harassment Claim, Federal Agency Charges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – American Queen Steamboat Company, a cruise company headquartered in Memphis, unlawfully fired an employee after he supported his coworker’s complaint about sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that in December 2014, Cruise Director Carson Turner submitted a written complaint to American Queen supporting the claim of his coworker that this coworker was being sexually harassed by a supervisor. Turner criticized American Queen for failing to stop the harassment. Turner also criticized a high-level company manager for alerting the alleged harasser, a friend of that manager, about the coworker’s complaint. The manager confronted Turner about his complaint and threatened his job. Turner reported this retaliatory conduct to his immediate supervisor, but the super­visor took no remedial action. And in May 2015, American Queen fired Turner, even though his super­visor told him that he had done “nothing wrong.”

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from retaliation for opposing unlawful discrimination, including opposing the sexual harassment of a co­worker. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (EEOC v. American Queen Steamboat Company, Civil Action 17-cv-02669), after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting American Queen from retaliating against employees who engage in protected activity in the future, as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and other affirmative relief for Turner. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Liane T. Rice of the EEOC’s New York office, supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Raechel Adams.

“An employee who reports the sexual harassment of a coworker is doing the workplace and the employer a big favor,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “Such whistleblowers are entitled to the fullest protection of the law, and the EEOC will fight to see they get it.”

Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York District director, added, “This case shows clearly the critical importance of employers training their supervisors to respond appropriately and effectively to discrimination complaints – and certainly never to punish someone for reporting such misconduct.”

El Chaparro to Pay $20,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit

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ATLANTA – El Chaparro, Inc., a Tex-Mex restaurant in Covington, Ga., will pay $20,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC filed suit in 2016, charging that El Chaparro violated federal law when one of its owners sexually harassed four female servers at its Greensboro, Ga., restaurant location in 2013 and 2014. According to the EEOC’s complaint, El Chaparro’s general manager and co-owner showed the four servers pictures and videos containing sexual images, talked about the servers’ sex lives, and showed the servers shirtless photos of himself on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. The servers complained about the sexual harassment to the restaurant’s other owner, but the company failed to take any action to stop the harassment, the EEOC said. The Greensboro restaurant location is now closed and the four women no longer work for El Chaparro.

Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-4118-RWS-CMS) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Divi­sion, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary damages to the servers, the consent decree settling the lawsuit requires El Chaparro to create and disseminate a handbook containing policies prohibiting sexual harass­ment. The decree also requires that the company provide annual equal employment opportunity training to its owners, managers and employees. The five-year decree further requires the company to post a notice to its employees about the lawsuit and to provide periodic reporting to EEOC about sexual harassment complaints.

“The harassment of female employees in the restaurant industry is far too common an occurrence,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “Employees should be able to go to work without fear and without being subjected to any kind of abuse.”

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, added, “The agency is pleased that El Chaparro agreed to resolve this case. The women will be compensated monetarily, and the training and monitoring provisions in the consent decree will contribute to the agency’s mission and hopefully ensure this will not happen to any other employees of this company.”

EEOC Sues Applebee’s Grill and Bar for Sexual Harassment

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Assistant Manager at North Myrtle Beach Location Subjected Two Sisters to Sexual Comments and Touching, Federal Agency Charges

FLORENCE, S.C. – Green Apple, LLC, dba Applebee’s Grill and Bar, violated federal law when it subjected two female employees, sisters, to a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on 3 May 2017.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, around September 2013, Tracy Frye began working as a server at Applebee’s Grill and Bar in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The EEOC’s complaint charged that from around January 2014 until October of that year, one of the male assistant managers at the rest­aurant subjected Tracy to sexual harassment. The alleged abuse included comments about the size of her breasts, com­paring salad dressing to semen, and propositioning Tracy for sex.

Around June 2014, Cindy Frye, Tracy Frye’s sister, began working as a server at the same Applebee’s. The EEOC said that from June 2014 until October of that year, the same assistant manager sexually harassed Cindy as well. The alleged misconduct toward Cindy included comments regarding female genitalia and as well as propo­sitions for sex. The complaint further alleges that the assistant manager touched both women inappro­priately. According to the EEOC’s complaint, restaurant management was aware of the sexual harass­ment, but took no action to stop it until late October 2014, when a male relative of one of the women threatened to address the situation personally.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from allowing a sexually hostile work environment to exist in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Florence Division (EEOC v. Green Apple, LLC, dba Applebee’s Neigh­borhood Grill and Bar, Case No. 4:17-cv-01152-RBH-KDW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settle­ment through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief, including compensatory and punitive damages for the harassment victims, as well as injunctive relief.

“This incredible case – where an abusive manager allegedly harassed one sister and then another – reinforces the crucial need for employers to take appropriate action to stop unwelcome sexual com­ments and misconduct in the workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The EEOC takes a company’s disregard for the federally protected rights of its employees very seriously and will prosecute cases where this kind of abuse occurs.”

Condo Association Sued for Sexual Harassment National Origin Discrimination and Retaliation

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Management Company Also Sued; Vulnerable Workers Subjected to Abuse, Including Attempted Rape, and Retaliation for Complaining, EEOC Charged

DENVER – Vail Run Resort Community Association, Inc., a condominium complex in Vail, Colo., and its management company, Global Hospitality Resorts, Inc., violated federal law by allowing a housekeeping manager to sexually harass Mexican female employees, including attempted rape, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

EEOC further alleged the defendants retaliated against men and women who complained about the harassment to management, including Global Hospitality’s controller, Alan McLean, or owner, William Fleischer.

According to EEOC’s suit, Omar Quezada, the housekeeping manager, repeatedly spoke about sex, propositioned female employees, showed them graphic pictures on his phone, and groped and physically assaulted his victims, including attempted rape. Quezada targeted Mexican immigrants who were particularly vulnerable, threatening them with job loss and deportation if they refused his advances, complained about him, or went to the police.

When workers nevertheless complained to management, they were met with anger and indifference. EEOC said the companies never undertook an internal investigation after the complaints, made no effort to reduce Quezada’s supervisorial powers, and did not discipline Quezada. Two victims were finally forced to go to the police for help, and both of these women were later fired. In 2013, an Eagle County jury found Quezada was guilty of unlawful sexual contact and felony extortion, and Quezada pled guilty to additional similar charges after the jury verdict.

All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, discrimination based on national origin, and retaliation. EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Vail Run Resort Community Association, Inc. and Global Hospitality Resorts, Inc. Case No. 1:15-cv-01592 (D. Colorado)) after first attempting to resolve the matter through its pre-litigation conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary damages including emotional distress and punitive damages. EEOC also seeks injunctive relief prohibiting any future discrimination by the employers and mandating corrective action.

The investigations of the charges of discrimination that led to the lawsuit were conducted by the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD). Rufina A. Hernandez, Director of the CCRD, stated, “We are pleased that the critical investigative work that the Colorado Civil Rights Division conducted produced such important results for the State of Colorado and the nation. The partnership between EEOC and CCRD not only provides protection to all workers – regardless of national origin – but ensures that systemic issues of sexual harassment of immigrant workers will be aggressively enforced.”

“Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “They have less information about their rights and about how to enforce them, and are often times linguistically and socially marginalized. Employers need to take preventative measures against discrimination, particularly when their workforce is highly susceptible to exploitation.”

EEOC Denver Field Office Director John Lowrie added, “Companies must take sexual harassment complaints seriously, no matter who makes the complaint, and must be vigilant against retaliation.”

Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers is one of six national priorities identified in the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.