Store Manager Torments Young Female Staff and Terminated Worker Who Opposed Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK - A franchisee of Dunkin' Donuts with multiple stores and one office/kitchen in Westchester County, N.Y., violated federal law by subjecting young female workers to sexual harassment by a manager since at least 2011, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. EEOC also charged the company with unlawfully firing a female worker for opposing the sexual harassment and calling the police.
According to EEOC's suit against Hillcrest Marshall, Inc., the store manager's harassment included making sexual comments and propositions, such as saying almost daily that he wanted to have a "threesome" with the women, many of whom were in their teens. The manager talked about his genitals, tried to kiss a female worker, and pressured a female worker to have sex. Frustrated with one worker's rejection of his sexual advances, the manager smacked her face, cursed and yelled at her regularly and sent her home several times in the middle of her shift. When she contacted the police, she was fired.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may not subject employees to a hostile work environment because of sex and cannot retaliate against employees for resisting or making complaints. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Hillcrest Marshall, Inc., d/b/a Dunkin' Donuts, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No. 7:15-CV-7293) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
EEOC's suit seeks monetary relief for the affected workers, as well as relief meant to remedy and prevent future harassment or retaliation at the company.
"It took a great deal of courage for these young women to come forward and speak up against the manager who had power over their livelihood," said New York District Director Kevin Berry. "Employers need to implement strong policies so that victims can report sexual harassment without reprisal."
Catherine Wan, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, said, "Targeting teenaged female workers is especially inexcusable. Our most vulnerable workers must be protected against sexual advances at work, and EEOC is here to help do that."
EEOC recently updated its Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/), which presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. The website also contains curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce.
EEOC's New York District Office oversees New York, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.