EEOC Sues Restaurants for Allowing Sexual Harassment in the Kitchen

EEOC Sues Restaurants for Allowing Sexual Harassment in the Kitchen

February 20, 2019
February 21, 2019
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Two restaurants in Carmel, California were sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for permitting employees to be sexually harassed by management.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, a male line cook at Porta Bella Restaurant suffered repeated groping of his private parts by the kitchen manager, cook and chef.  When he reported the conduct to Porta Bella's owners, they dismissed the inappropriate touching by the kitchen manager and cook, claiming "they only play."  But after he reported the chef grabbing his genitals, the chef became confrontational, yelling at the line cook, hitting him twice and aggressively scrutinizing and criticizing his plating of meals. Porta Bella's owners sought to discipline the line cook for leaving the restaurant after he became upset by the chef's actions, so he quit due to the unchecked and ongoing harassment and hostility.

The EEOC also found that a female dishwasher employed at MediterraneanRestaurant faced daily sexual comments and physical touching by the same kitchen manager who harassed the Porta Bella line cook.  The harassment included the manager sticking his tongue in her ear, sliding his hand up her shirt to grab her breast, and offering to pay her for sex.  Although she informed another manager of the harassment, the sexual comments continued.

The sex harassment by the restaurants’ cook violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. "Employers must protect their workers from harassment and sexual abuse, no matter whether filed by a male or female employee.  These workers notified their management, but their employer failed to take prompt, effective action as federal law requires it to do,” said a representative from the EEOC following the filing of the lawsuit. “Advising employees to 'just ignore' bad behavior and dismissing harassment as mere horseplay are red flags an organization needs to re-examine its workplace culture and anti-harassment policy."

Sex harassment is a common problem in the restaurant industry. If you believe that you have been subjected to harassment, please call the attorneys at Pechman Law Group for a free consultation. 212-583-9500.

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