In a settlement reached in April, 2005 with a California property owners association, the EEOC alleged that two female dishwashers and other female employees in its restaurant were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. Furter, the EEOC alleged that the employer had retaliated against the charging party after she complained. The restaurant manager and a cook perpetrated the harassment, which consisted of offensive sexually-oriented comments and unwelcome physical contact. Charging party and another woman complained to the Human Resources Department in early September and again on October 28, 2002. Shortly after the first complaint, the restaurant manager reduced charging party's hours. Shortly after the second complaint, the restaurant manager issued charging party a warning letter for an incident that had occurred in July 2002, and then discharged her on November 3, 2002.
Under the 3-year consent decree resolving this suit, defendant will pay $285,000 in monetary relief, consisting of $45,000 ($42,000 in compensatory damages and $3,000 in backpay) for charging party, $30,000 (compensatory damages) for another female dishwasher, and $210,000 (compensatory damages) into a "Class Fund." After a notice and claims procedure, the EEOC will designate the individuals eligible for the Class Fund and the amounts they are to receive. Defendant will retain an outside EEO Consultant to monitor its compliance with Title VII and the provisions of the decree.
A Burger King franchise agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit for $400,000 which will be paid to seven female employees. In addition, the franchise agreed to take signficant remedial measures– including conducting extensive training and making policy revisions. The settlement was pursuant to a proposed Consent Decree filed in December, 2004.
The EEOC's lawsuit alleged that restaurant manager Nathan Kraus subjected the female employees, six of whom were high school students, to repeated groping, vulgar sexual comments, and demands for sex. According to the EEOC, several of the young women complained to assistant managers at the restaurant as well as to a district manager, but no one took action to stop the harassment. None of the female employees had received training on how to make a sexual harassment complaint.
The companies have agreed to pay the victims a total of $400,000 in damages and attorneys' fees, and have further agreed not to rehire Kraus. In addition, the companies will conduct extensive sexual harassment training for management personnel, including eight hours of training for several upper-level managers, distribute the revised sexual harassment policy and procedure to all restaurant employees, and more prominently post an 800-number hotline for reporting harassment throughout their restaurants.
Lynn Bruner, Director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office, said, "This lawsuit could have been avoided if assistant managers and others had acted to stop the harassment when they first received complaints about the restaurant manager. We are pleased that the companies will compensate these young victims and provide extensive training to their staff on sexual harassment."
On June 17, 2004, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a $1,000,000 settlement of an employment discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act against former Hialeah, Fla.-based Airguide Corporation and its parent company Pioneer Metals, Inc.
The EEOC's suit said that three former female employees at the companies'manufacturing plant were subjected to sexual harassment in the form of sexually explicit slurs and comments by their supervisor and, despite repeated complaints to management officials, the harassment persisted. The lawsuit also alleged that after several employees participated in the EEOC's investigation and/or filed charges of discrimination with the Commission, they were subjected to retaliation by the companies in the form of reprimands, discipline, harassment, suspensions, and terminations.
Under the terms of the Consent Decree settling the case (Civ. No. 02-22912), approved earlier this week by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Airguide Corporation and Pioneer Metals, Inc. will pay a total of $1,000,000 in monetary damages to be divided among seven former employees,conduct annual training at its 19 facilities located throughout the state of Florida in an effort to prevent future discrimination; and undergo monitoring by the EEOC to prevent recurrences of discriminatory conduct throughout the three-year duration of the Consent Decree.
No. Civ-S-03-657 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 6, 2004)
The San Francisco District Office filed this Title VII action against two auto dealerships in Solano County, California, alleging that they harassed seven former employees based on their religion (Muslim), color (dark skin), and national origin (Afghanistan). The suit also alleged that the defendants constructively discharged one of the employees and retaliated against four others by terminating them after they complained about the harassment. Defendants are part of a network of 13 dealerships owned by the same person. The verbal harassment directed at the male Afghani/Muslim employees by defendant's high-level managers and subordinate employees included derogatory names and offensive comments such as "fucking Afghani," "the bin Laden gang," "sand niggers," "terrorists," and "camel jockeys." One manager frequently vocalized his dislike of Muslims and Afghanis, implied that all Muslims should be killed, and made anti-Muslim comments to a female Muslim employee regarding that religion's treatment of Muslim women. When another Muslim female was hired, the same manager commented that there were "too many dark faces" in the room. The Afghani employees complained to their superiors, which included an office manager, supervisor, and dealership owner, but their complaints were ignored. Pursuant to a three-year consent decree, defendant dealerships will pay $550,000 in damages to the seven former employees. Defendants also will use an outside consultant to implement complaint procedures and to enforce the dealerships' revised EEO and antiharassment policies, specifically regarding national origin and religious harassment and retaliation. Detailed reports regarding harassment complaints and resolutions will be submitted to the EEOC biannually.
No.8:03cv567-T17MSS (M.D. Florida, January 8, 2004) and No.8:02-CV-1770-T-30TBM (M.D. Florida, January 8, 2004)
The Miami District office settled two employment discrimination lawsuits under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act against Tampa, Fla.-area restaurants for sexual harassment of teenaged former employees. The settlements against Pizza of Florida, Inc., doing business as ABC Pizza, and Rare Hospitality International, Inc., doing business as Longhorn Steakhouse, total $525,000 in monetary relief and include extensive remedial relief, such as company training, posting of notices, and monitoring provisions.
The EEOC's lawsuit against Pizza of Florida charged the Tampa Bay area pizza chain with subjecting female employees to a sexually hostile working environment. The EEOC contends that the sexually harassing conduct, created by the restaurant's manager, was primarily directed towards two sisters who were ages 16 and 17 at the time they were employed with ABC Pizza. The conduct included inappropriate touching as well as egregious verbal comments. The $325,000 in monetary relief, includes a $100,000 fund to be distributed among other similarly situated female employees subjected to the sexually harassing conduct.
EEOC's settlement with Longhorn requires the company to pay Collen Falkowski and two other former similarly situated employees a total of $200,000 in monetary relief for harassment that they were subjected to at the hands of an assistant manager. Ms. Falkowski was 16-years old when she associated with Longhorn as part of a high school on-the-job training class requirement. The assistant manager subjected Ms. Falkowski and the two other similarly situated female employees to conduct ranging from inappropriate hip and lower back touches and breast grabbing to inappropriate verbal comments, the EEOC's lawsuit said.
No. 03-CV-80105 (S.D. Iowa October 22, 2003)
In this Title VII action, the Milwaukee District Office alleged that defendant, a school busing company, subjected female employees to a sexually hostile work environment and black employees from Sudan and other African countries to a hostile environment based on their race and national origin. A supervisor made offensive sexual comments to women and touched them inappropriately, and used racial epithets and other abusive language in speaking to black African employees. Milwaukee also alleged that a female employee was discharged for complaining about the sexual harassment. The case was resolved by a three-year consent decree which requires a total award of $145,000 to nine class members. Defendant is enjoined from engaging in any behavior that harasses or intimidates employees on any basis prohibited by Title VII and is required to enforce its "zero tolerance" policy prohibiting discrimination or harassment based on sex or race. Defendant is further enjoined from retaliating against any current or former employee for exercising Title VII rights.
No. 02-50269 (N.D. Ill. October 1, 2003)
The Chicago District Office brought this Title VII suit, alleging that defendant, an operator of several family restaurants in Northern Illinois, tolerated the sexual harassment of waitresses, some of whom were still in high school, during their employment at defendant's Crystal Lake, Illinois restaurant. The women complained that they had been subjected to offensive sexual comments and unwanted touching and kissing by male co-workers. Pursuant to a consent decree, defendant will pay a total of $368,000 to 13 claimants, provide EEO training in English and Spanish to its supervisors and managers, and report complaints of sexual harassment to the EEOC. The decree enjoins defendant from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex.
No. 03-5103-CV-JCE (W.D. Mo. October 8, 2003)
In its Title VII lawsuit, the St. Louis District Office alleged that defendant subjected female employees to sex discrimination and retaliation through the conduct of the supervisor of its Pill Room, where employees press various powders into "pills" used as components for thermal batteries. Evidence revealed that the supervisor questioned the women about their sex lives, threatened them, followed them to the bathroom, stalked them after work, refused to train new female employees, held the female employees to a higher work performance standard than their male counterparts, and disciplined and discharged female employees because of their sex. The supervisor also assigned a female employee to work that was inconsistent with her medical restrictions because she complained about his discriminatory conduct. Despite the women's complaints, no corrective action was taken. The case was resolved by a consent decree which provides a total payment of $200,000 (representing back pay and compensatory and punitive damages) for eight charging parties; reinstatement of three charging parties; restoration of another charging party's seniority status; and an injunction against rehiring the supervisor and another culpable manager. The decree also enjoins defendant from discriminating on the basis of sex and from retaliation. Defendant will provide live training on EEO laws for its managerial and supervisory employees and implement a policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex or retaliation.
No. 01-4035-CIV-MARTINEZ/GARBER (S.D. Fla. September 3, 2003)
In this Title VII lawsuit, the Miami District Office alleged that defendant, a car dealership, subjected a group of employees to a hostile working environment on the basis of national origin (Hispanic), race (black) and religion (Jewish). The harassment consisted of derogatory comments ("America is for whites only") and name-calling ("spic," "nigger") made by the Director of Fixed Operations and the son of the dealership's owner. One of the charging parties was forced to quit his job due to the harassment. The case was resolved through a four-year consent decree which provides for a total payment of $700,000 ($600,000 in compensatory damages to be distributed among the four charging parties and $100,000 in compensatories to be distributed among currently unidentified black employees who were subjected to harassment based on race between January 1998 and December 2002). The consent decree also requires Lexus of Kendall to hire a presenter approved by the EEOC to provide annual training to all of its managers and supervisory personnel on all aspects of Title VII, and to undergo monitoring which will include submitting semi-annual reports to the EEOC throughout the duration of the consent decree on harassment complaints and the manner in which it addressed the complaints. The decree enjoins Lexus of Kendall from discriminating against any employee who opposes unlawful employment practices under Title VII.
No. CV-02-C-0796-W (N.D. Ala. September 9, 2003)
The Birmingham District Office alleged in this Title VII lawsuit that defendant subjected charging party, a bus driver for special needs passengers, to a sexually hostile working environment through the actions of her supervisor. The harassment consisted of offensive sexual comments and sexual touching. Despite receiving a complaint about the harasser's conduct in January 1999, defendant did not discipline/discharge him until July 1999. During that intervening period, charging party was forced to transfer out of a higher paying bus route to her original route because the new position required more frequent contact with the harasser. In addition to the sexual harassment claims brought by the Commission, charging party, who intervened, alleged that she was discharged in retaliation for filing an EEOC charge about the harassment. The case (including the discharge claim) was resolved through a consent decree which provides for payment of $85,000 to charging party. Defendant also agrees to reinstate charging party to her position as a bus driver, with seniority, effective August 2003.
No. 01-CV-3822 (D. N.J. September 9, 2003)
The Philadelphia District Office alleged in this Title VII lawsuit that defendant, a cleaning contractor, subjected two female maintenance employees to a hostile working environment based on their sex and national origin (Polish), and that the women were given extra cleaning assignments in retaliation for rejecting their supervisor's sexual advances. The supervisor repeatedly called the two women derogatory names which emphasized their Polish heritage and requested sexual intercourse and other sexual acts with them. On one occasion, the supervisor pushed one of the woman to the floor and kicked her after she rejected his sexual advances. One of the female claimants was forced to quit her job due to the harassment. In addition to the sexual harassment, a male maintenance employee was harassed because of his national origin (Peruvian) and race (dark-skinned Hispanic). The case was resolved through a consent decree for a total payment of $575,000 to the three claimants. Defendant is enjoined from harassment based on sex or national origin and from retaliation. The company agrees to draft an anti-discrimination and harassment policy which will be translated into Polish and Spanish and will include a translation assistance provision for non-English speaking employees who file a discrimination or harassment complaint. Distribution of the policy and training of managers is required at defendant's facilities in New Jersey and in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County, New York.
No. 5:02-CV-206 (E.D. Tex. September 11, 2003)
The Dallas District Office alleged in this Title VII lawsuit that defendant, the nationwide retail chain, subjected charging party, a female Bakery Department employee, to a sexually hostile working environment through the actions of the Bakery Manager. The harassment included unwelcome sexual comments and touching. After charging party complained about the harassment, she was transferred to a position in the hardware department that required heavy lifting and was ultimately forced to quit her job. The case was resolved through a consent decree which provides for payment of $150,000 to charging party, representing $10,000 in back pay and $140,000 in damages. The decree also requires defendant to prepare a memo stating that it has received two sexual harassment complaints against the Bakery Manager and that any further complaints will be fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action taken, and to place the memo in the Bakery Manager's permanent investigative file and reference it in his permanent personnel file.
No. 02-6178 (W.D. N.Y. September 12, 2003)
The New York District Office alleged in this Title VII lawsuit that defendant, a hotel, subjected charging party, a minor, and at least nine other female housekeepers to a sexually hostile working environment through the actions of at least two male employees. The harassment, which included sexual touching and daily sexual propositions, occurred in guest rooms and throughout the Housekeeping Department. Charging party and at least one other victim were high school students who worked part-time, and one of the harassers worked in a supervisory capacity. Several of the claimants quit their jobs due to the harassment. Defendant also retaliated against a claimant by cutting her work hours after she filed a criminal complaint of sexual harassment against one of the harassers. The case was resolved through a consent decree which provides for a total payment of $625,000 to the female claimants ($275,000 to the charging party pursuant to a separate settlement agreement acknowledged in the decree and $350,000 to be distributed among nine identified female claimants and any other claimants who are later identified by EEOC as victims of sexual harassment). Defendants are enjoined from discriminating against any employee working in the hotel's Housekeeping Department because of the employee's sex (including sexual harassment) and from retaliation.
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