A Panda Express restaurant, part of the giant Chinese fast-food chain, subjected a class of female employees, including teenagers, to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed in Hawaii on September 26, 2012.
According to the EEOC, a male supervisor at the Panda Express in Kapaa, Kauai, sexually abused at least three female teenagers starting in 2008 and likely several more. At least one of the teen workers was physically groped and subjected to lewd language and obscene sexual propositions repeatedly. Upon reporting the harassment to the general manager, the EEOC said, the teen’s hours were cut in retaliation, forcing her to resign. Another teen victim was also forced to quit to avoid persistent verbal obscenities and sexual advances by the same supervisor.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC attorneys are seeking all available relief including lost wages, front pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages on behalf of the class of women. Substantial remedies including policy changes and staff training are also being sought by the EEOC in order to prevent and to appropriately address future instances of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.