Female Employee Subjected to Sexual Comments by General Manager, Then Fired Because She Complained, Federal Agency Charged
GREENSBORO, N.C. - BCD Restaurants, LLC, a Greensboro, N.C.-based Zaxby's restaurant franchisee, will pay $30,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that BCD Restaurants violated federal law when it subjected a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment and then fired her for complaining about the harassment.
According to the EEOC's complaint, the young woman (age 19) at the center of the suit worked for BCD Restaurants as a cashier at the West Gate City Boulevard Zaxby's from November 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019. The EEOC said that the restaurant's general manager made sexually inappropriate comments and requests for sex with the cashier on an almost daily basis. She complained to one of BCD Restaurants' owners. Within days, the company fired her, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from allowing a sexually hostile work environment to exist in the workplace and from taking retaliatory actions against employees who complain about such misconduct. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (EEOC v. BCD Restaurants, LLC d/b/a Zaxby's, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00903) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief for the cashier, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires BCD Restaurants to develop a policy that prohibits sex-based harassment and retaliatory conduct. The decree further requires BCD Restaurants to conduct annual anti-harassment training for managers, supervisors and employees, to post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, and to provide periodic reports to the EEOC.
"A company's ability to provide a work environment free of harassment is dependent on its employees being able to report this sort of abuse without hesitation," said Kara Haden, Acting Regional Attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Every time an employee complaint about harassment leads to discharge, the entire work environment is placed at risk."
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