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 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.