Restaurant's Owner and General Manager Sexually Harassed Female Employee, Retaliated Against, and Forced her Resignation, Federal Agency Charges
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - Limeños Corporation, doing business as Ceviche House, violated federal law when an owner and general manager subjected a female server to sexual harassment, retaliated against her when she complained, and made her work conditions so intolerable she was forced to resign, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Ceviche House's part-owner Marcelo López Mandujano made the restaurant a sexually-charged workplace. He would regularly discuss sex at work, display nude photos of women, talk about the female employees' body parts, and refer to female employees as whores. When a female server complained to management about Mandujano's sexually offensive behavior, the restaurant failed to stop the harassment-telling her nothing would be done to stop his inappropriate conduct. Mandujano then retaliated against the employee by intensifying the harassment including physical threats against her. As a result of his conduct, the female server was forced to resign.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, and from retaliating against workers who object to such discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by the statute.
The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico (EEOC vs. Limeños Corporation d/b/a Ceviche House, Case No. 3:20-cv-01143), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the discrimination victim, and injunctive relief.
"The EEOC will fight against employers who allow sexual harassment in the workplace and do nothing after an employee complains about the hostile work environment they experienced," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office, which includes Puerto Rico within its jurisdiction.
Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC's Miami District Office, said, "The EEOC will not tolerate workplace sexual harassment, especially in the important hospitality industry that employs so many workers in Puerto Rico."
The EEOC's Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa, and San Juan offices and has jurisdiction over most of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The EEOC's Miami District employs multiple bilingual investigators who speak English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French and Portuguese.
The EEOC advances opportunities 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.