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PRESS RELEASE
3-16-09

NASHVILLE WAFFLE HOUSE SETTLES EEOC SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT

Night Shift Cook Harassed Servers While Managers Ignored Complaints, Federal Agency Charged

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Nashville Waffle House restaurant has been ordered to allow unsecured claims in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy action totaling $45,000 for several women who the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claims the company subjected to a sexually hostile work environment.

The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:07-cv-00690, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville), charged that SouthEast Waffles, LLC subjected several servers on the night shift at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville to sexual harassment by a cook who was in charge of the night shift. The suit said the sexual harassment included unwelcome sexual touching, frequent requests for sexual conduct, other frequent sexual comments and other sexual conduct. The EEOC said the women made several complaints to their managers about the sexual harassment, but the managers failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action to end the harassment.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on sex. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

Under the terms of the three-year consent decree entered by U.S. District Judge Aleta A Trauger, SouthEast Waffles is enjoined from subjecting women employees to sexual harassment, and from discriminating against employees because they have opposed employment discrimination made unlawful by Title VII or participated in an investigation or proceeding under Title VII. The settlement also requires anti-discrimination training, corrective action affecting one of the managers who was involved in the alleged illegal conduct, modification of the company’s policies prohibiting harassment, and reporting to the EEOC for three years about all complaints concerning sexual harassment.

"Sexual harassment, and managers’ failure to stop sexual harassment, has been a very serious problem for employees for far too long,” said Faye Williams, the EEOC’s regional attorney for its Memphis District. “We have consistently opposed it, as we did in this case. We obtained appropriate remedies and corrective action, and we are confident this will help prevent sexual harassment in the future. All employers must respond quickly and effectively to stop this kind of abuse when it occurs.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.