A jury’s award of $105,000 in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by two waitresses at Racine, Wisconsin IHOP was affirmed by a federal court judge. The women, both in their teens, alleged that their assistant manager made sexually-charged comments, and engaged in inappropriate and unwelcome touching. On one occasion, the manager “slap groped” a waitress on her buttocks and asked her to have sex with him “on the pancake batter.” On another, he told one of the waitresses that he thought she was “kinky” and that she liked “to do it rough.” The waitresses brought these incidents to the attention of two other managers, but no action was taken. When one manager was asked at the trial why no corrective action was taken, he stated that he did not believe the behavior constituted sexual harassment.
Judge Adelman’s August 31, 2010 decision underscored that it is unlawful for any employer who knows or should know about ongoing harassment to fail to take corrective action. In addition to paying the waitresses $105,000, the restaurant was also required to create a new sexual harassment training program, post a toll-free number so employees can make complaints, and report to the EEOC any complaints of harassment for the next four years.