Tag Archives: EEOC

EEOC Sues Sparx Restaurant for Race Discrimination and Retaliation

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A race discrimination lawsuit filed against Sparx, a Menomonie, Wisconsin restaurant, accuses restaurant managers of posting racist imagery and then firing an African-American employee after he complained.

According to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), Dion Miller arrived for his regularly scheduled shift at the restaurant to find taped to the cooler a picture of African-American actor Gary Coleman and a dollar bill which had been defaced such that a noose was around the neck of George Washington, whose face had been blackened.  Also on the dollar bill were swastikas and the image of a man in a Ku Klux Klan hood.  Sparx managers told Miller that they had posted the images the evening before but, when Miller complained, insisted that it was “a joke.” Miller was terminated within weeks of complaining about the racist imagery, for allegedly having “a bad attitude.”  Attorneys for the EEOC have charged that Sparx terminated Miller in retaliation for opposing race discrimination.

The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks backpay compensation for lost wages, reinstatement, and compensatory and punitive damages.

Hurricane Grill and Wings pays $200,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Suit

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Hurricane Grill and Wings restaurant in Royal Palm Beach, Florida will pay $200,000 to settle a class sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of the restaurant’s waitresses, according to a Consent Decree filed with the United States District Court of Florida for the Southern District of Florida.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that the company violated federal law when it permitted a class of female servers to be sexually harassed by a customer, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy. Later, the EEOC said, the company fired a female server after management learned she had hired a private attorney to assist her in filing an EEOC complaint.

The case against Hurricane Grill and Wings alleged that the servers were frequently grabbed on their breasts and buttocks and humiliated by sexual innuendo, as well as by direct invitations to join the harasser and his wife in ménage a trois.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant Sued for Disability Discrimination

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A deaf prep cook was harassed and demoted by a McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant because of his disability and as a retaliation for his complaints about his mistreatment, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Vernon Davis has been profoundly deaf since he was a young boy and had performed satisfactorily since his hire as a prep cook in May 2008.  Beginning in May 2009 up until his termination, Davis was mocked, had boxes kicked at him, and was called “vermin” instead of Vernon.  After he complained about the discriminatory treatment, the restaurant demoted him from his prep cook position to dishwasher, and from dishwasher to utility person, while cutting his work hours.  Finally, the EEOC said, Davis was fired as retaliation.

The alleged conduct of the restaurant violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, seeks lost wages as well as compensatory and punitive damages.  It also seeks injunctive relief to prevent discrimination from recurring.

In a press release, EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence stated, “People with hearing impairments can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions. Some employers assume incorrectly that these workers will have difficulty communicating in fast-paced environments, when in reality, they can be very effective workers.”

In fiscal year 2010, private-sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the EEOC hit an unprecedented level of 99,922, which included a record-high 25,165 disability charges.  That is an increase of 17.3 percent in disability charges over the prior fiscal year.

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Texas Roadhouse Restaurants

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Texas Roadhouse restaurants have been discriminating against applicants for “front of the house” positions such as servers, hosts, and bartenders, by failing to hire them because of their age, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Complaint alleges that Texas Roadhouse has hired significantly few “front of the house” employees of 40 or older in age, and that only 1.9% of the restaurant’s front of the house employees were over forty.  Texas Roadhouse allegedly instructed its managers to hire younger job applicants and emphasized youth when training managers about hiring employees for its restaurants.  All of the images of employees in its training and employment manuals are of young people.

The EEOC complaint alleges that Texas Roadhouse’s hiring officials have made the following discriminatory remarks to older unsuccessful applicants across the nation:

  • “There are younger people here who can grow with the company.”
  • “You seem older to be applying for this job.”
  • “We think you are a little too old to work here… we like younger people.”
  • “Our age group is in their young 20s, college students.”
  • “We are looking for people on the younger side… but you have a lot of experience.”
  • “How do you feel about working with younger people?”
  • “We really go with a younger crowd and have a younger establishment.”

Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (as well as the state and local laws prohibiting age discrimination).  The EEOC seeks monetary relief for all applicants denied employment because of their age, the adoption of strong policies and procedures to remedy and prevent age discrimination by Texas Roadhouse restaurants, and training on discrimination for its managers and employees.

Applebee’s Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit for $1 Million

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A lawsuit alleging that an Applebee’s restaurant in Bismarck, North Dakota permitted its restaurant general manager to create a pattern and practice of sexual harassment and retaliation against employees was resolved by a consent decree approved by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland on September 2, 2011.  Under the terms of the decree reached with the EEOC, the restaurant will pay out $1 million in compensatory damages to seventeen female employees who were subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation during their employment.  The decree also requires that the restaurant implement a training program to enable Applebee’s employees to identify sexual harassment and properly investigate internal complaints.

The lawsuit claimed that between 2002 and the end of 2007, Applebee’s General Manager, Mike Cordova, regularly groped female employees, solicited sexual relations, and exposed himself.  He also allegedly exposed female employees to pornography, told sexually explicit stories and jokes, made highly personalized sexual comments designed to demean and humiliate female employees, and on at least one occasion, allegedly coerced an employee into giving him oral sex in exchange for a raise.  The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that despite repeated complaints by employees and customers, Applebee’s failed to discipline or stop Cordova’s behavior.  Five women previously employed at the same location then filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC.

John Rowe, Director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, said in a press release, “This case demonstrates in a rather emphatic way that sexual harassment is still a challenge for women at some of our best known neighborhood businesses.”  Sexual harassment, and retaliation for complaining about it, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Discrimination Against Latino Workers Is Alleged in Lawsuit Against Panda Express Restaurant

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A discrimination lawsuit against a Panda Express restaurant in San Jose, California alleges that Hispanic/Mexican workers were required to clean the bathrooms while Asian workers looked on. The complaint, which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the United States District Court of the Northern District of California, seeks monetary and punitive damages on behalf of the Hispanic workers, as well as training on anti-discrimination laws.

According to the EEOC, the general manager of the Panda Express located on El Paseo de Saratoga gave less desirable assignments to Hispanic workers, reduced their hours, and held them to a different standard of performance. Aremy Lomely and other Hispanic workers who worked as counter help were required to clean the bathroom, tables, and counters, while Asian employees were permitted to simply stand around and watch, said the federal agency. In addition, the EEOC found that the general manager disciplined Latino employees in a stricter, harsher, and more frequent manner than Asian employees for similar infractions.

In a press release from the EEOC, Lomely said that the general manager’s treatment of Mexican workers divided them from the Asian workers. Lomely stated, “I felt so ashamed when the Asian workers watched me obediently run from the bathroom to the tables to the counters, cleaning when they did not have to. For months, he treated me like a worthless employee, disciplining me for things he would never hold against his non-Hispanic food line servers. It is such a relief to know that the law says this is not OK.”

Discrimination based on national origin violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law requires employers to base employment decisions on the skills, experience, and merit of individual employees, instead of national origin or ancestry.

Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit Filed Against Bojangles’ Restaurant

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A Bojangles’ restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina has been accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of allowing a manager to sexually harass female employees and unlawfully firing one of them for complaining about the harassment.

According to the EEOC’s Complaint, from mid-2008 to July 2009, the restaurant’s manager made explicit, obscene sexual comments to a female worker at the restaurant on several occasions, including requests for sexual favors and requests for oral sex in exchange for time off.  The lawsuit alleges that on one occasion, the store manager approached the female employee in the restaurant’s outdoor shed, exposed his penis and asked her to touch him.  The EEOC alleges that the store manager terminated the female worker in retaliation for complaining to the company’s area director and senior director of human resources.

Sexual harassment, and retaliation for complaining about it, is discrimination which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC is seeking monetary damages for the fired worker and other harassment victims at the restaurant, along with injunctive relief.

Hurricane Grill & Wings Sued by EEOC For Customer’s Sexual Harassment

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The Hurricane Grill & Wings restaurant failed to protect its waitresses from a customer who repeatedly sexually harassed them, according to a lawsuit filed on July 5, 2011 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

The EEOC’s complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division, alleges that Commodore Bradford, a Palm Beach County Deputy Sheriff who was a regular customer at the Palm Beach restaurant, made sexually offensive comments, displayed pornographic photographs on his cell phone and regularly made unwelcomed sexual advances towards female waitresses. These actions included, asking servers to join him and his wife in a ménage a trios, grabbing females by their breasts, and slapping their buttocks. When a waitress complained to restaurant management on several occasions, immediate and appropriate corrective actions were not taken. According to the EEOC, after repeated complaints, restaurant management retaliated against the waitress, changing her work schedule from lucrative weekend evening shifts to less lucrative, weekday daytime shifts. The EEOC’s complaint further alleges that when the restaurant became aware of the waitress’ intention to take legal action, the restaurant terminated her employment.

Denny’s Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit for $1.3 Million

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A nationwide class action lawsuit alleging disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) was settled on June 20, 2011 for $1.3 million.  The case had been filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of disabled employees at Denny’s 500 corporate-owned restaurants in 30 states.  The Consent Decree, filed by a federal court judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, provides for Denny’s to pay the workers $1.3 million for back pay and compensatory damages.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Denny’s refused to provide one of its restaurant managers in Baltimore, Maryland with the legally-required reasonable accommodations for her disability, a leg amputation which prohibited her from working in its restaurants, despite her desire to return to work.  Subsequently, Denny’s fired the employee because of her disability.  The EEOC further alleged in its Complaint that Denny’s violated the rights of a nationwide class of workers with disabilities by maintaining a maximum medical leave policy that automatically denied additional medical leave beyond a pre-determined limit – – even when additional leave was required by the ADA as a reasonable accommodation for those workers – – resulting in their unlawful terminations.

The Consent Decree provides for a number of remedies.  Denny’s must offer to reinstate all employees who were fired because of the leave policy to the positions that they held at the time of their discharges.  Denny’s must also amend its medical leave policy to make exceptions to any maximum leave duration provisions by providing additional unpaid medical leave beyond the maximum allowed by its policies when necessary to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities.  Furthermore, Denny’s is enjoined from any present or future violations of the ADA.

Sonic Drive-In Settles Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit For $2 Million

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A Sonic Drive-In in Los Lunas, New Mexico agreed to settle a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) for  $2 million.  The lawsuit alleged that a manager harassed numerous female workers, including teenagers, and retaliated against victims who complained.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Robert Gomez, a former manager of and limited partner in the Los Lunas Sonic, subjected a class of women to sexual harassment, including sexual comments and innuendo, and unwanted touching.  The lawsuit also alleged that women who asked Gomez to stop harassing them or complained about their work environment were subjected to retaliation, primarily by a reduction in their hours.  The EEOC further alleged that employees were also forced to quit their jobs because of the sexual harassment, retaliation, and/or the employer’s failure to provide preventive or remedial relief.

Over 70 women are expected to receive relief through the settlement.  In addition to the substantial monetary relief, the settlement prohibits Sonic from further discriminating or retaliating against its employees and requires Sonic to have in place policies and practices that will provide its employees with a work environment free of sex discrimination and retaliation.  Sonic must also provide its employees in Los Lunas and other area stores anti-discrimination training and notice of the settlement, and report any other complaints to the EEOC for three years.