Restaurant Fired Bartender for Complaining About Sexually Hostile Workplace, Federal Agency Charged
ORLANDO, Fla. - Christini's Ristorante Italiano, an Italian restaurant located in Orlando's "Restaurant Row," has agreed to pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC charged in its suit that the restaurant, through its owner Chris Christakos, also known Chris Christini, created and encouraged a work environment in which unwelcome, sexually charged comments and conduct was permissible and commonplace, and which allowed for the repeated propositioning of a female bartender. She was asked to go on dates; described to restaurant patrons as single and available to date them; subjected to sexual innuendo; and told to dress "sexy" and "date-ready," among other things. When she complained, Christini fired her, the EEOC said.
In addition to the $80,000 monetary award, the consent decree settling the suit provides for significant injunctive relief to help secure a workplace free from unlawful harassment and retaliation in the future. This will include mandatory anti-harassment training for Christini and all employees to be led by a subject matter expert approved by the EEOC. Christini's must also develop, and distribute to its employees, a written anti-harassment policy. The policy will include a discussion of social media as a potential means of workplace harassment that, like other forms, will be not be tolerated. Further, Christini's will hire an independent third-party to operate a telephone hotline for employees to report incidents of discrimination and harassment.
Also, the restaurant must post a notice referencing this lawsuit and consent decree, advising employees of their rights. To ensure that Christini's complies with its obligations, it must submit to a confidential, anonymous workplace climate survey to be provided to the EEOC. Additionally, Christini's will provide a positive written job reference for the bartender.
"Consistent with the Commission's long-time commitment to eradicating sexual discrimination in the workplace, the EEOC will continue to file lawsuits to remedy sexual harassment and to ensure that employees are not retaliated against for complaining about it," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District.
Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC's Miami District, added, "Federal law is abundantly clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Employers who ignore anti-discrimination laws should be on notice that they do so at their own peril."
The EEOC's litigation effort was led by Trial Attorney Robert L. Adler and Supervisory Trial Attorney Kimberly A. Cruz.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.