Store Manager Harassed Female Employees, Then Fired One for Complaining, Federal Agency Says
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Bojangles’ Restaurants, Inc. violated federal law by subjecting female employees to a sexually hostile work environment at one of its corporate-owned restaurants, and by firing one woman who complained about the sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The restaurant involved in the lawsuit is located in Greensboro, N.C.
According to the lawsuit, from approximately mid-2008 to July 2009, Shannie Norfleet was subjected to sexual harassment by her male store manager. The EEOC contends the store manager made explicit, obscene sexual comments to Norfleet on several occasions, including requests for sexual favors and requests for oral sex in exchange for time off. The lawsuit further alleges that on one occasion, the store manager approached Norfleet in the restaurant’s outdoor shed, exposed his penis and asked her to touch him. Norfleet complained about the sexual harassment to the company’s area director and the senior director of human resources, the EEOC said, but the harassment did not cease. Rather, the agency charged, Bojangles’ discharged Norfleet in retaliation for her complaints.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bojangles’ Restaurants, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-00641), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for Norfleet and the other harassment victims.
“Once an employer is put on notice that its employees are being subjected to sexual harassment, it must take prompt corrective action to stop it,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “And when an employer punishes someone for complaining about discrimination, it is only compounding the problem and its own liability.”
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Tina Burnside added, “The EEOC will continue to take action to enforce federal law and ensure that employees have the right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment.”
According to company information, Bojangles’ has more than 500 restaurants.
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.