Manager Subjected Women to Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charged
SAN ANTONIO — A Fredericksburg, Texas restaurant will pay $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC alleged in its suit that Winslow’s Restaurant’s male general manager engaged in sexual harassment of women employees, which occurred on a regular basis. The abuse included offensive touching of women as well as crude sexual statements and requests for sexual favors, the EEOC charged. Despite efforts by two female employees to report the harassment to the owners, the owners failed to take prompt and effective corrective action and instead allowed the general manager to engage in retaliatory conduct against the two women. The reprisals included a demotion and the reduction of hours which resulted in less pay, the EEOC said. Moreover, these two affected employees felt forced to leave the job because of the intolerable working conditions arising from the sexual harassment and retaliation.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
On May 12, 2009, the consent decree settling the suit was signed by Judge Lee Yeakel of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division. In addition to providing $50,000 for the victims and enjoining Winslow’s Restaurant from engaging in sexual harassment and retaliation, the consent decree mandates that the restaurant adopt and implement an effective sexual harassment policy, train its employees on the requirements of Title VII, and post a notice in the workplace of its intent to fully comply with that law.
“Employers who ignore complaints of harassment show a tremendous disregard both for the law and for the employees whom the law seeks to protect,” said Eduardo Juarez, senior trial attorney of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “When they not only fail to correct the situation but also punish the complainers, they’re only compounding their own unlawful conduct. The EEOC will continue to fight for the rights of those who suffer this kind of abuse.”
In Fiscal Year 2008, 13,867 sexual harassment charges were filed with the EEOC and state or local agencies nationwide, an increase of 11 percent from the prior year and the highest level since FY 2002.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.