Owner Subjected Female Employees to Severe Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
ERIE, Pa. -- Ricardo's Restaurant in Erie violated federal law by subjecting female employees to egregious sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
The EEOC charges that the restaurant's co-owner (who is also the restaurant's president) routinely made offensive and sexual comments to Dorothy Hannah and other female employees, including frequent statements about various sex acts, such as, "Did you get f----d today?" The co-owner engaged in unwelcome touching of female employees in a sexual manner, the EEOC said. He also regularly commented on the bodies of female employees and called women derogatory and belittling names.
Hannah complained about the co-owner's improper conduct, but he ignored her repeated requests to stop using sexually explicit language. The harassment was so intolerable that Hannah was forced to quit, the EEOC charged.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Ricardo's Restaurant, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00203) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Erie Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"Owning a business is not a license to sexually harass employees," said Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, "Business owners have an obligation to protect employees from this sort of abuse. The EEOC is prepared to take strong action if a business owner misuses his authority in this way."
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.