Latin-Themed Sports Cantina Allowed Harassment of Several Females, Including a Teenager, and Retaliated When They Opposed Illegal Misconduct, Federal Agency Charges
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The owner/operators of Ojos Locos Sports Cantina in Albuquerque violated federal law by subjecting a group of female employees to sexual harassment while they were working at the Latin-themed sports cantina, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.
The owner/operators are Ojos Locos Sports Cantina, LLC; Ojos Locos Sports Cantina DOS, LLC; Ojos Locos Sports Cantina TRES, LLC; Ojos Locos Sports Cantina CUATRO, LLC and Reach Restaurant Group, acting as a single employer.
In its suit, the EEOC alleged that a group of women, including Shyanne Hyde and other females (one of whom was only 17 at the time) working at Ojos Locos' Albuquerque location, suffered sexual harassment by managers and co-workers. The EEOC charged that the women were forced to endure pervasive, unwelcome conduct, including requests that they show more cleavage in their uniforms; comments about their breasts and buttocks; comments by male employees about their private parts; text requests for sex; and unwelcome touching of their bodies, all of which created a hostile work environment for them. In at least one case, a managerial official texted Hyde a photo of his penis.
In addition, the EEOC charged that women who complained, including Hyde, suffered negative job consequences, such as fewer work hours, unfavorable shifts or changes to work assignments. Hyde was fired because she opposed the illegal harassment. Finally, the EEOC alleges that the hostility of the environment and Ojos Locos failure to correct it, forced other women to resign.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Ojos Locos Sports Cantina, LLC; Ojos Locos Sports Cantina DOS, LLC; Ojos Locos Sports Cantina TRES, LLC; Ojos Locos Sports Cantina CUATRO, LLC and Reach Restaurant Group, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv- 00758-JHR-LF) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit asks the court to order these companies to provide all the affected women with appropriate relief, including back wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and a permanent injunction enjoining Ojos Locos from engaging in any further gender-discriminatory practices or retaliation. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
"Employers have a legal obligation to prevent and stop sexually harassing behavior immediately," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. "When they fail to do so, the EEOC has and will prosecute such cases vigorously. We remain particularly concerned about sexual harassment in workplaces where employees are often young, single mothers, or other vulnerable workers."
EEOC District Director Elizabeth Cadle said, "Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). In the era of the #MeToo movement, we continue to recognize the bravery of women who come forward and share the abuse they have experienced so that workplaces can be safer for all employees."
The EEOC's Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.
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.