Cheddar’s Casual Café, a casual dining restaurant chain, will pay $450,000 to fifteen workers and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charged that Cheddar’s violated federal law by maintaining a hostile work environment at its Winchester Road restaurant in Memphis by permitting sexual conversations and jokes and by allowing a general manager and bar manager to subject several female employees to sexual harassment. According to EEOC’s lawsuit, among other things, Cheddar’s male managers made requests for sexual favors and explicit sexual comments, and subjected female employees to unwelcome touching. The lawsuit further alleged that despite having received complaints from its female employees, Cheddar’s did not respond to those complaints in a prompt and appropriate manner.
Besides the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit includes:
- mandatory anti-harassment training;
- maintenance of workplace cameras;
- monitoring workplace behavior;
- notice of the settlement to Cheddar’s employees in its Memphis restaurant; and
- reporting future complaints of sexual harassment to EEOC for three years.
“Having and disseminating an anti-harassment policy does not satisfy federal prohibitions against sexual harassment,” said Regional Attorney Faye Williams. “Employers must also enforce it. When an employer allows its managers to abuse its female employees in these ways and allows a sexually hostile work environment to persist, it is obviously not enforcing its anti-harassment policy. An unenforced policy is tantamount to having no policy at all.”