Young, Male Mexican-American Workers Were Sexually Harassed by Restaurant Manager, Federal Agency Charges
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - A San Ysidro, Calif., restaurant which serves Mexican food just north of the U.S.-Mexico border violated federal law by subjecting young, male Mexican-American workers to sexual harassment and then retaliating against them for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, the restaurant manager, using a hidden cell phone, secretly video-recorded male workers at Achiote restaurant -- all Mexican-American, between the ages of 19 and 21 - while they were using the men's staff restroom by during work hours. Upon learning that he had been recorded, a 21-year-old male server immediately reported the activity both the San Diego Police Department and the restaurant's owner, EEOC said.
EEOC further alleges that the restaurant failed to adequately respond to the sexual harassment complaint and subsequently retaliated against the male worker who complained by demoting him to bussing tables, substantially reducing his work schedule from five to two days per week, and issuing excessive formal discipline. Due to this ongoing hostile work environment and abusive working conditions, the worker was forced to quit, EEOC said.
EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Salum Revilla Enterprises, LLC dba Achiote Restaurant, Case No. 3:15-cv-01974-LAB-RBB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In its suit, EEOC charged that the restaurant discriminated against the class members due to their sex, male, and engaged in retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC's suit seeks compensatory damages and back pay, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future sexual harassment and retaliation.
"Our youngest, most vulnerable workers must be protected against sexual advances at work," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District. "Employers need to make workers feel safe by implementing strong policies prohibiting sexual harassment and effectively preventing and addressing harassment without reprisal."
Christopher Green, director of EEOC's San Diego Local Office, added, "Retaliation is the No. 1 type of charge received by EEOC, a growing problem that our federal agency takes seriously. Workers absolutely have the right to report harassment at work without negative consequences, and EEOC is here to help."
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.