Tag Archives: EEOC

Los Angeles Restaurant Sued by EEOC For Pregnancy Discrimination

EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination LA Louisanne

LA Louisanne, a popular Los Angeles restaurant and jazz night club, fired an employee because of her pregnancy, according to a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC’s discrimination lawsuit, the restaurant cut a pregnant server’s hours after she announced she was pregnant and refused to let her return to work after she gave birth. The EEOC alleges that other employees at the restaurant have also been subject to discrimination because of their pregnancies.

Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC’s discrimination lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the female employee and a class of similarly affected employees, as well as relief intended to prevent further discrimination at the restaurant.

Employment attorneys for the EEOC’s said, “employers should be cognizant of their obligations under the law to maintain a workplace free of discrimination against employees who are expectant mothers. Women should not have to choose between their job or having children. Employers need to be aware that the EEOC takes pregnancy discrimination seriously and the agency will continue to protect the rights of pregnant employees.”

Bayou City Wings Discriminated Against Older Workers at Restaurants, EEOC Charges in Lawsuit

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Bayou City Wings, a Houston-based restaurant chain, has unlawfully engaged in a pattern or practice of intentional age discrimination in its hiring of host and wait staff, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

EEOC’s lawsuit said that since at least 2008, Bayou City Wings has been discriminating against a class of applicants for “front of house” positions, such as food servers and hosts, by failing to hire them because of their age (40 years and older). According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Bayou City Wings’ upper management instructed other managers not to recruit and hire older job seekers and disciplined and terminated a manager who refused to comply. The agency also charged that since at least 2008 to about November 2013, the company failed to preserve employment records, including the job applications of unsuccessful applicants, in violation of federal law.

Age discrimination, as well as the failure to preserve proper job application records, violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

EEOC filed the lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:16-cv-03245) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks, among other things, monetary relief for applicants denied employment because of their age; the adoption of policies and procedures to remedy and prevent age discrimination; and training on discrimination for all Bayou City Wings managers and human resources staff.

“Sadly, age discrimination continues to be an employment barrier for many Americans,” said Rayford O. Irvin, district director of EEOC’s Houston office. “Denying jobs to qualified applicants who are over 40 because of their age is unlawful, yet older job applicants often do not know they are victims of this unlawful discrimination.”

 

Texas Roadhouse to Pay $1.4M to Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit

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A Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Columbus, Ohio will pay $1.4 million to settle a class sexual harassment suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC had charged the restaurant with victimizing a group of female employees as young as 17 years old by subjecting them to sexual harassment and then retaliating against them for complaining.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, the manager of the restaurant in the Reynoldsburg section of Columbus, Eric Price, harassed women and teen girls working in server, hostess and other front-of-the-house positions. In the suit, EEOC identified 12 victims of his abuse who suffered unwelcome touching, humiliating remarks about their and other females’ bodies and sexuality, and pressure for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits or as a condition of avoiding adverse employment action. EEOC charged that the harassment began in 2007, continued for over three and a half years until the manager was fired in May 2011, and was coupled with retaliation against employees who opposed the abuse.

Although the companies’ owners and individuals with high-level authority received multiple complaints about the manager’s abusive conduct throughout his employment, they failed to take prompt, effective action to put a stop to the abuse, EEOC said. Price was not fired until May 2011, when he was seen on a surveillance video touching a 17-year-old female employee in his office at the restaurant during work hours, the agency charged.

Harassment and discrimination based on sex violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII also forbids employers from firing or otherwise retaliating against an employee because she complained about discriminatory conduct. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. East Columbus Host, LLC d/b/a Texas Roadhouse and Ultra Steak, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-1696) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

On Sept. 2, U.S. District Court Judge James L. Graham issued an order denying East Columbus Host and Ultra Steak’s motion for summary judgment on EEOC’s sexual harassment claims. He found that EEOC had presented sufficient evidence to overcome the motion. In rejecting the employers’ argument that they had established an affirmative defense because some of Price’s victims allegedly delayed or failed to complain, Judge Graham held that questions remained regarding the companies’ efforts to stop any sexually harassing behavior.

Referring to evidence that previous complaints had been made against the restaurant manager, the court noted that EEOC had described a pattern of complaints, including evidence that “less than a month into his tenure, Price made sexual remarks to … [a] high school-aged hostess … [who] did complain, and the only response she got was not from the corporate office, but from the very person she feared: Eric Price,” who told her “not to get other people involved if she had a problem.” A jury, Judge Graham held, “could see this as the first failure in a long line of tepid responses in the face of near-constant complaints, bookended by sexual harassment of teenage girls.” The court also rejected the defendants’ argument that EEOC had failed to conciliate its claims against them as required by Title VII.

In addition to the $1.4 million in monetary relief to the victims, the five-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit requires the companies to offer reinstatement to injured women identified by EEOC in agreed locations and positions. The decree prohibits the companies from rehiring the offending manager.

The decree further requires East Columbus Host and Ultra Steak to put in place an electronic recordkeeping system to track all gender discrimination and retaliation complaints of any kind and includes mandatory reporting of any allegedly discriminatory or retaliatory adverse employment action, such as failure to hire or promote.

Further, the companies must provide training to all employees on discrimination and retaliation. Supervisory, management, and human resources personnel are to be trained on their duty to monitor the work environment; how to receive and investigate complaints of harassment or discrimination; and how to respond to complaints effectively with corrective action. East Columbus Host and Ultra Steak also are required to report to EEOC on how they handle any internal complaints of gender discrimination or retaliation, and they must post a notice about the settlement at all restaurants covered by the decree.

EEOC recently updated its Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/), which presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. The website also contains curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce.

Westchester County Dunkin’ Donuts Settles Sex Harassment Lawsuit for $150,000

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A Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee in Westchester County, NY will pay $150,000 to former workers to settle a sex harassment lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Hillcrest Marshall, a franchise which owns multiple Dunkin’ Donuts locations. The lawsuit claimed that the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee violated federal law by subjecting female employees, some of whom were in their teens at the time, to sexual harassment by a store manager at one of its stores. According to EEOC’s lawsuit, among other things, the store manager talked about his genitals, tried to kiss a female worker who was 20 years old at the time, and pressured her to have sex. After she rejected him, the manager regularly hit, cursed and yelled at her. When she contacted the police, she was terminated in retaliation for resisting his advances.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, Hillcrest Marshall ceased to employ the manager and agreed not to rehire him. In addition to payment of $150,000 to the harassment victims, Hillcrest Marshall will train the managers at all of their stores of their obligations under the law; institute strong anti-discrimination and complaint policies for all of its employees; and designate a senior manager to receive all complaints of discrimination and harassment.

 

Red Lobster Sued for Sexual Harassment

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Red Lobster Restaurant subjected female employees to egregious sexual harassment including grabbing and groping, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).  The EEOC alleged that the restaurant’s then culinary manager subjected Valerie Serman, Racheal Cox and a class of similarly situated female employees to longstanding sexual harassment including pressing his groin against them, and groping them. The EEOC further alleged in the lawsuit that the manager made sexually offensive comments, such as frequent remarks about the bodies of female employees and about his genitals.

According to the EEOC, Red Lobster failed to take prompt action to stop the sexual harassment even though the offensive conduct and comments were blatant and pervasive. Serman also complained to her general manager about the harassment, but he not only failed to act, but also had a history of making vulgar and sexually charged remarks about female employees himself, the lawsuit claimed.

Subjecting employees to a sexually hostile work environment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the Red Lobster from engaging in sexual harassment, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for Serman, Cox and the class of female employees, and other affirmative relief.

Lawsuit Claims Chicago Restaurants Refused to Hire Black Waiters

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African Americans were denied waiter positions at a number of Chicago restaurants owned by Rosebud Restaurants Inc. according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The complaint, which was filed in Federal Court in Chicago, claims the founder and owner of Rosebud Restaurants Inc., Alex Dana, and other management employees have discriminated against black job applicants.  The lawsuit claims that at the time of filing most of the restaurants had no black employees.  Rosebud Restaurants owns and operates several popular restaurants in the Chicago Area including Carmines in Chicago, Rosebud of Highland Park, and Ristorante Centro.

The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent future discrimination by the restaurants against African American applicants. It also seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for an undisclosed number of applicants who were denied employment because of their race.

Baltimore Italian Restaurants Sued For Sex Harassment by EEOC

Italian restaurants Basta Pasta in Maryland have been sued for sexual harassment and retaliation.  According to the federal court lawsuit filed the by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Maryland restaurants, the owner repeatedly harassed his female workers, some of whom were teenagers, by touching them on their buttocks, lower backs and shoulders, rubbing his genitalia against their buttocks, leering at them and making comments about their bodies, including calling them “sexy” or “hot,” making sexually suggestive remarks and crude sexual innuendos, and asking for massages.

The lawsuit also claims that the owner of the restaurants pressured female employees to have alcoholic drinks at the end of their shifts and, in one instance, gave one female employee so much alcohol that she passed out and later vomited, causing the worker to believe that the owner drugged her in an attempt to sexually assault her.  The complaint also alleges that in another instance the owner took another female employee to his house purportedly to talk about a management opportunity.  Instead the worker believes she was drugged and sexually assaulted by the restaurant owner. Two workers claim that the sexual harassment was so unbearable that they quit their jobs.

Attorneys for the EEOC claim that the company failed to take corrective measures after the restaurant manager complained about the owner’s sexually offensive behavior and eventually fired her in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment.  According to the lawsuit, the restaurant also threatened the manager when she participated in the EEOC investigation and pressured her to recant her testimony.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment and forbids employers from retaliating against employees who make complaints about sexual harassment or discrimination.  The EEOC is seeking, among other things, injunctive relief prohibiting Basta Pasta from engaging in sexual harassment or retaliation, as well as lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages.

Panda Express Restaurant Sued for Rampant Sexual Harassment

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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.

Bayou City Wings Sued for Pregnancy Discrimination

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Bayou City Wings, a Baytown, Texas-based restaurant chain, violated federal law when its managers laid off pregnant employees under a discriminatory policy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 26, 2012.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Maryann Castillo and other female workers were laid off after the third month of their pregnancies under a written policy, set out in Bayou City Wings’ employee handbook.  Bayou City Wings owns and operates restaurants in Baytown, Houston and surrounding areas.  The company’s district manager laid off Castillo pursuant to the policy even though she had provided a doctor’s note that indicated she could work up to the 36th week of her pregnancy and that her doctor had not placed any restrictions on her ability to work.

During the EEOC’s investigation of a discrimination charge brought by Castillo, Bayou City Wings named eight female employees who were laid off from work because of their pregnancies.  According to a Bayou City Wings general store manager, for a manager to keep a pregnant employee at work any longer would “be irresponsible in respect to her child’s safety” and would jeopardize his position with the company “for not following procedures.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex or pregnancy.  The attorneys for the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.   The EEOC seeks an injunction, back pay with pre-judgment interest, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, in amounts to be determined at trial.

Owner of 25 McDonald’s Restaurants to Pay $1 Million in EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit

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The owner and franchisee of 25 McDonald’s restaurants has agreed to pay $1,000,000 and provide substantial injunctive relief to resolve a class sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Missoula Mac violated federal civil rights laws at its Reedsburg, Wis., McDonald’s by permitting male employees to create a hostile work environment of sexual harassment against female co-workers, some of whom were teenagers, and by retaliating against those who complained about sexual harassment.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, since at least 2006, several male employees at the restaurant subjected female co-workers to sexual harassment, including sexual comments, kissing, touching of their private areas, and forcing their hands onto the men’s private parts.  Despite being notified of the situation, Missoula Mac failed and refused to take prompt and appropriate action to correct the harassment and the resulting hostile environment, forcing at least one of the harassed employees to quit.  Further, the company fired other harassed employees after they complained repeatedly about their co-workers’ behavior.  Three women previously employed at the Reedsburg McDonald’s filed discrimination charges with the EEOC that led to the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb entered a four-year consent decree resolving the suit.  Under its terms, Missoula Mac will pay out $1 million in compensatory damages to 10 former employees who experienced sexual harassment and retaliation during their employment at the Reedsburg McDonald’s.  The company will also (1) create an ombudsperson position responsible for monitoring, soliciting and resolving complaints of sexual harassment or retaliation; (2) establish telephone and e-mail hotlines for employees to report sexual harassment or retaliation; (3) evaluate its managers’ and supervisors’ performance based in part on whether their restaurants comply with anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws and policies; (4) track and maintain records of all sexual harassment and retaliation complaints; (5) implement a comprehensive training program to enable its employees to identify sexual harassment and properly investigate internal complaints; (6) post notices at all its restaurants informing employees that it has settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit with the EEOC and publicizing some settlement terms; and (7) provide periodic reports to the EEOC showing it is complying with the terms of the decree.