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Applebee’s Grill and Bar to Pay $75,000 To Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Assistant Manager at North Myrtle Beach Location Subjected Two Sisters to Sexual Comments and Touching, Federal Agency Charged

FLORENCE, S.C. - New Apple, Inc., doing business as Applebee's Grill and Bar, a North Carolina corporation that owns and operates several Applebee's restaurants throughout the southeast, will pay $75,000 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 charged that New Apple violated federal law when it subjected two female employees, who are sisters, to a sexually hostile work environment.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, around September 2013, Tracy Frye began working as a server at Applebee's Grill and Bar in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The EEOC charged that from around January 2014 until October of that year, one of the male assistant managers at the restaurant subjected Tracy to sexual harassment. The EEOC further charged around June 2014, Cindy Frye, Tracy Frye's sister, began working as a server at the same Applebee's. The EEOC alleged that from June 2014 until October of that year, the same assistant manager sexually harassed Cindy as well. The alleged abuse endured by the Frye sisters included physical groping and sexual comments. EEOC's complaint further claimed that although much of the offensive conduct was witnessed by members of management and although the Frye sisters reported the harassment to multiple managers on several occasions, the company failed to promptly stop the harassment.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. New Apple, Inc.; Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-01150-AMQ-KDW) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Florence Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to paying the Frye sisters $75,000 in monetary relief, New Apple has entered into a two-year consent decree. The consent decree, which covers all restaurants owned and operated by New Apple in South Carolina, requires New Apple to develop an auditing process to assist the corporation with identifying and addressing actual or potential sexual harassment; provide workplace civility and sexual harassment training to all area directors, general managers, assistant general managers, and assistant managers; and to report to the EEOC all complaints of sex-based conduct or comments made by employees.

"This case - where a manager allegedly openly and brazenly harassed multiple female employees and the conduct went ignored by other managers - reinforces the crucial need for employers to take appropriate action to stop unwelcome sexual comments and misconduct in the workplace," said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The EEOC takes a company's disregard for the federally protected rights of its employees very seriously and will prosecute cases where such disregard occurs."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.