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.
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.
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.
A sex harassment and retaliation case against Sutton Place Bar and Restaurant can move to trial, according to a recent Decision by a New York court. The lawsuit alleges that owner Neil Hanafy subjected female employees to a hostile work environment by constantly subjecting waitresses to vulgar sexual comments, comments about their weight and appearance, and inappropriate touches of their buttocks and breasts. One server testified that Hanafy repeatedly asked her how much she weighed, and tried to weigh her by forcibly lifting her onto a scale. The waitresses also allege that complaints of the lewd comments and sexual advances were ignored by both Hanafy and supervisor Selena Steddinger.
The two waitresses also allege unlawful termination, as they were fired from their employment shortly after complaining about the forcible weighing of all female employees.
A former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a restaurant co-owned by Paula Deen, has filed a lawsuit against the celebrity cook, accusing her of condoning an atmosphere of sexual harassment and race discrimination in her restaurant. The Savannah-based oyster house is co-owned by Deen and her brother, Earl W. “Bubba” Hiers. Paula Deen is the star of two Food Network shows and the best-selling author of cookbooks that have sold more than 8 million copies.
The Complaint brought by Lisa T. Jackson alleges racist behavior by Hiers, including accusations that he physically intimidated employees, displayed pornography at work, made offensive comments to the staff regarding their weight, and acted toward Jackson in a sexually degrading manner including forcibly kissing her cheek and spitting on her and repeatedly using racial epithets.
Jackson, a white woman who managed a number African American employees, claims that over the course of five years, she made “numerous and frequent” complaints of racial and sexual harassment and other abusive treatment to Deen and others in her restaurant group’s upper management, but they declined to act, even though the conduct was “universally known.” Lawyers for Jackson allege that, during a conversation regarding Hiers’ 2007 wedding, Deen stated that she wanted “a true Southern plantation-style wedding,” and using a racial epithet, suggested the waitstaff wear, “long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around… Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.” Additionally, the complaint alleges that African American employees were not permitted to use the customer bathroom, and were required to use the back entrance of the restaurant for all purposes.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and attorneys’ fees.
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.
The Tilted Kilt, a Celtic-themed bar and restaurant featuring scantily dressed waitresses, has been sued for sexual harassment by its workers.
Lawyers for the women claim that one of the owners bragged about his sexual exploits, attempted to kiss and grab the women, and licked, poked and grabbed the waitresses in a sexual manner. The Complaint against the restaurants is ripe with offensive comments that the waitstaff were subjected to, including “meow, meow, you are a dirty kitty,” “that’s how daddy likes it,” and “you don’t know what I’d like to do to you.” Lewd gestures and offensive, uninvited sexual innuendo created a “sexually hostile, offensive, humiliating and degrading work environment,” according to the lawsuit. In addition to sexual harassment, the employees claim that the management retaliated against workers who complained by cutting their hours and giving them unwanted shifts.
The lawsuit against the restaurant seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.
A grill cook at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Huntington, Long Island has accused the restaurant and a co-worker of unlawful sexual harassment.
Kyle Desiro, who worked as a grill cook in the “back line” of the restaurant, claims that another grill cook would ask him if he liked “pinga,” a Spanish term for penis, and taunted him with homophobic comments. The verbal harassment eventually escalated into a physical assault and battery on Desiro by the same co-worker. The lawsuit also alleges that two days after Desiro complained about the co-worker’s harassment and physical assault, he was falsely accused of smoking marijuana and was fired.
The Complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, seeks damages for humiliation, lost wages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Lawyers for Desiro filed the case under the New York City Human Rights Law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Mario Batali’s Babbo Restaurant has been sued by a waiter who alleges that the restaurant condoned sexual harassment of the waiter by co-workers.
The Complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court by waiter Eugene Gibbons claims that co-workers smacked his buttocks, grabbed his genitals, and made comments to him of a sexual nature. The lawsuit alleges that Gibbons complained to restaurant management but management did nothing to stop the harassment, and Gibbons was forced to resign, i.e. constructively discharged. Attorneys for the waiter seek back pay, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages for the alleged wrongful and illegal conduct.
Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry has been a subject of media discussion following the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain, during his campaign for President. The Huffington Post recently ran an interesting article providing an overview of the issue of sexual harassment in restaurants.
A hostile work environment filled with sexual taunting, physical abuse, and vegetables used in a phallic way, is how a cook at a Morton’s Steakhouse in Boca Raton, Florida described his work environment in a recent lawsuit.
The Complaint of Reginald Williams, filed in the Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida alleges that he was sexually harassed by his co-workers. The allegations in the Complaint include that one of his co-workers paraded around the kitchen with stalks of asparagus in his pants to simulate an erect penis, grabbed Williams’ buttocks and licked his ear, and that other co-workers asked him whether he wanted oral sex. The Complaint accuses Morton’s management of turning a blind eye to the harassment. After an alleged sexual attack by a co-worker in the storage area, Williams made a report to the police and did not return to work.
Williams seeks compensatory and punitive damages for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of his civil rights.