Young Female Workers, Mostly Teens, Sexually Harassed by Supervisors, Federal Agency Charges
LOS ANGELES - Regional fast food chain Del Taco violated federal law when at least three male employees, including those in supervisory roles, sexually harassed and retaliated against a group of young female workers at a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Del Taco, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC, supervisory officials harassed female staff, most of them teenagers, with inappropriate sexual comments and unwanted physical touching. Some of the young women made formal complaints to management, human resources and the EEOC, but no corrective action was taken by the company. Instead, the company retaliated against those who complained by changing their schedules and reducing their working hours. The EEOC contends that this created a hostile work environment and the women felt they had no choice but to resign.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Del Taco LLC, Case No. 5:18-cv-01978) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's suit seeks monetary damages for the class of victims, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct discrimination.
"Employers need to take a serious proactive approach to promoting accountability, training and leadership to achieve a workplace free of harassment," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District Office.
Rosa M. Viramontes, director of the EEOC's Los Angeles District added, "Younger employees are a highly vulnerable segment of the workforce and may be easy targets for harassers. Employers need to understand that they may be especially liable to experience such abuse, especially when the misconduct is committed by those to whom they have delegated authority."
According the company's website, www.deltaco.com, the chain operates in 15 states and has 310 corporate locations, along with 241 franchise locations. The majority of its restaurants are in the west coast states of California, Oregon and Washington.
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
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.