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EEOC Sues South Loop Club for Sex Harassment and Retaliation

Federal  Agency Says Bar and Grill Allowed Harassment of Female Employees

CHICAGO -The South Loop Club, a Chicago bar and grill  located at 701 S. State Street, fostered a culture that enabled the sexual  harassment of a number of female employees by owners and managers, the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed  this week.  When female employees  complained to management about the ongoing and pervasive harassment, according  to EEOC, they were fired or forced to quit. 

The EEOC's district director in Chicago, John Rowe, who  directed the EEOC's adminis­trative investigation, said the company's owners  and managers made frequent comments of a sexual nature to subordinate female  employees. 

"Long before women came to the EEOC to file charges, our  investigation revealed, they complained repeatedly to the company's owners and  managers, but their complaints were ignored, or even mocked," Rowe said.  "To add insult to injury, several female  employees who complained about the harassment were discharged after  complaining, or felt they had no choice but to quit when the harassment  continued unabated."

The EEOC's lawsuit was brought under Title VII of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination (including sexual  harassment) as well as retaliation, in employment.  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to  reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.  The case, EEOC  v. South Loop Club, Civil Action No. 12 cv -7677, was filed Sept. 26 in  U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division,  and has been assigned to District Judge Charles P. Kocoras and U.S. Magistrate  Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert.   EEOC Trial  Attorney Brad Fiorito and Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour will  litigate the case on behalf of the government.

The EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson,  said, "In today's economy, even people with jobs may feel vulnerable and try  their best to put up with intolerable working conditions rather than attempt to  find a new job.  But no employee can be  forced to endure sexual misconduct at work.   That's why these days we make a strong effort to put a stop to sexual  harassment -- whether in the office, on the factory floor, or, too often, in  bars and restaurants.  A problematic  economy did not create an open season on women or somehow put the law against  sexual harassment on hold."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office  is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative  enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin,  Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and  Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against  employment discrimination.  Further  information is available at