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PRESS RELEASE
11-29-11

Luihn Food Systems Pays $277,000 To Resolve EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Company Failed to Stop Abuse of Female Employees at Raleigh KFC, Agency Charged

RALEIGH, N.C. – Luihn Food Systems, Inc. will pay $277,000 and furnish other relief to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the lawsuit, Tina Underwood, Sheila Mungin, Sabin Sheridan, Barbara Nowlin and a class of similarly situated female employees were sexually harassed between February 2007 and January 2008 while working at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant owned and operated by Luihn Food Systems in Raleigh, N.C. The harassment included unwelcome sexual touching by a male employee at the restaurant, including rubbing his body against the women, touching their buttocks and breasts and walking into the restroom while a female employee was using it. Despite receiving several complaints about the harassment, Luihn Food Systems failed to take action to stop it, the EEOC said.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC originally filed suit in August 2009 in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina (Civil Action No. 5:09cv00387), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary damages, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit requires Luihn to revise its sexual harassment policy to include, among other things, procedures for reporting sexual harassment and procedures for the prompt investigation of employee complaints about it. Luihn will also post a copy of its sexual harassment policy at all of its facilities and conduct an annual training program for all employees on its policy and Title VII’s prohibition against sexual harassment.

“Once an employer is put on notice that any of its employees, male or female, are being subjected to sexual harassment, it must take prompt corrective action to stop it,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, which includes the Raleigh Area Office, where the original charges of discrimination were filed. “We are pleased that, in resolving this case, Luihn is taking action to encourage the prompt reporting and investigation of sexual harassment complaints.”

Tina Burnside, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, added, “The EEOC is pleased that the consent decree includes injunctive measures designed to ensure that this kind of harassment does not happen again.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.