The Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEOC”) has stepped up its enforcement activity concerning sex harassment in restaurants, including harassment of male workers against other male workers.
In a complaint filed this month against Captain’s Galley in Charlotte, North Carolina, the EEOC has alleged that Peter Economos, an employee of Captain’s Galley, was subjected to inappropriate physical touching on a daily or almost daily basis by a male coworker, who would touch, poke, or slap him on the buttocks, and occasionally would grab Economos’ private parts. The coworker’s conduct also included explicit, obscene sexual gestures. The EEOC said that Economos complained about the sexual harassment to the company’s owner on at least two occasions but that no action was taken to stop the misconduct. Rather, the EEOC charged, Captain’s Galley discharged Economos in retaliation for his complaints.
Similarly, in Arizona, the EEOC recently settled a lawsuit against Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse on behalf of male employees who alleged that they were sexually harassed by the restaurant’s head chef. The restaurant will pay over $200,000 to three male employees. In a press release, Rayford Irvin, District Director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office said, “We want the public to know that sexual harassment isn’t just about misconduct between men and women. It includes sexually abusive behavior between people of the same sex also. Regardless of your gender or anyone else’s, you don’t have to tolerate sexual harassment.”
In New York federal court, the EEOC is currently prosecuting a male-on-male sexual harassment case against Sparks Steakhouse. The original charge of discrimination in the Sparks Steakhouse case was filed by Louis Pechman, founder of waiterpay.com.