J. J. Keller® Compliance Network Logo
Start Experiencing Compliance Network for Free!
Update to Professional Trial!

Be Part of the Ultimate Safety & Compliance Community

Trending news, knowledge-building content, and more – all personalized to you!

Already have an account?
Thank you for investing in EnvironmentalHazmat related content. Click 'UPGRADE' to continue.
Enjoy your limited-time access to the Compliance Network Professional Trial!
A confirmation welcome email has been sent to your email address from ComplianceNetwork@t.jjkellercompliancenetwork.com. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it in your inbox.
Thank you for your interest in EnvironmentalHazmat related content.
You've reached your limit of free access, if you'd like more info, please contact us at 800-327-6868.

Manager sexually harassed workers, agency charges

A Virginia-based corporation that owns 12 restaurant franchises, allegedly subjected women, including teen workers, to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced on March 16.

According to the lawsuit, a manager at one of the corporation’s restaurants in Maryland allegedly subjected a group of female employees to unwanted advances and touching, including asking teen workers to show their breasts to him and exposing himself to a teen worker.

The manager also made sexual comments about female employees’ attire and bodies, called them by degrading sexual slurs, asked intrusive questions about their personal relationships, and showed one teen worker an explicit sexual video. The manager also solicited employees for sex and punished those who rejected his advances and gave preferential treatment to those who submitted, according to the lawsuit.

The EEOC charges that the manager conditioned employment decisions on acquiescing to his sexual advances, including with respect to leave, scheduling, shift and table assignments, and other terms of employment.

According to the lawsuit, the corporation:

  • Did not have an effective anti-harassment policy or provide training on how to report harassment,
  • Knew about the sexual harassment, including from one teen worker calling the corporate office to complain, and
  • Failed to stop the harassment.

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a prelitigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

What is illegal sexual harassment?

Like any other type of harassment, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination. Sexual harassment in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To be illegal, harassment must be based on an individual’s membership in a protected class; and obviously sexual harassment is harassment based on sex. It can include unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. It can certainly be physical, but verbal remarks related to a person’s sex could also constitute sexual harassment.

Any of these behaviors are sexual harassment if they interfere with an individual’s employment or performance to an unreasonable degree, or if they create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Key to remember: To avoid costly litigation, be sure you have an effective anti-harassment policy, provide training on how to report harassment, and take all complaints of sexual harassment seriously.