Restaurant Owner Harassed Female Workers, Terminated Sous Chef for Reporting Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
INDIANAPOLIS - Georgina's, LLC, dba Georgina's Taqueria, an Asian and Latin "Fusion Cuisine" restaurant in Traverse City, Mich., violated federal law by subjecting female employees to repeated sexual harassment and retaliating against a female employee for opposing the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Georgina's owner repeatedly made lewd sexual comments to a female sous chef. When she complained about them to a manager, the owner stripped her of authority in the kitchen, changed her schedule and reduced her hours. The sous chef then filed a written complaint documenting the harassment. The owner terminated her 10 minutes later. Other female employees were also subjected to offensive conduct by the owner, including inappropriate touching of their buttocks, legs, chest and crotch areas, being kissed without consent, being forced to sit on the owner's lap, and being subjected to continual commentary about how he wanted to have sex with them.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination (including sexual harassment) and retaliation for reporting a claim against the discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 1:18-cv-00668 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking backpay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
"Owning a restaurant does not give one special license to sexually harass female employees," said Kenneth Bird, regional attorney for the Indianapolis District Office. "The EEOC will continue to stand up to such behavior wherever it occurs - even in the small kitchens of quiet lakeside cities like Traverse City."
The Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.
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.