A Chipotle Restaurant has agreed to pay $400,000 to three former crew members at its Sammamish, Washington, restaurant location, and will provide other relief to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Chipotle permitted the three young crew members, including one who was only 17 years old at the time, to be harassed by their 29-year-old service manager and subsequently by a 24-year-old coworker. The harassment included the manager sexually assaulting the underaged employee and touching another worker’s buttocks. He also made unwelcome sexual comments and requests for sex, and isolated employees by trapping them in the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator—blocking their exit—and caused them to fear for their safety. Despite the employees’ reports to the Sammamish restaurant’s general managers of being sexually harassed, Chipotle failed to adequately investigate their complaints and did not take sufficient remedial measures to stop the sexual harassment.
As a result of settling the lawsuit, Chipotle will:
· pay $400,000 to the three former employees and will appoint an internal consent decree coordinator to review, revise and implement anti-discriminatory policies and procedures that prohibit sexual harassment and retaliation.
· provide additional sexual harassment training to its employees, supervisors and managers at seven of its Washington restaurants in Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah and Sammamish.
· provide additional training to its HR investigators on how to conduct sexual discrimination and harassment investigations.
· adopt and disseminate policies holding its supervisors and managers accountable for their compliance with its EEO policies and procedures.
“It is not enough for an employer to have a policy against sexual harassment,” said an EEOC representative. Employers and managers must thoroughly respond to sexual harassment claims and take effective action against unlawful hostile behavior in the workplace. Employers have a duty to make sure that their managers and workers understand their rights and responsibilities under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and take prompt action to investigate, remedy and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or have questions about your rights as a worker, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of Pechman Law Group at 212-583-9500.