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Press Release 09-13-2012

EEOC Sues Leona's Pizzeria for Breach of Conciliation Agreement

Federal  Agency Says Legendary Chicago Pizzeria Refuses to Honor Deal to Resolve Multiple  Sexual Harassment Claims

CHICAGO - Leona's Pizzeria, Inc. has refused to abide by the  terms of a conciliation agreement reached with the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to resolve a class-wide sexual harassment  finding, according to a lawsuit filed by the federal agency in court today.

According to EEOC, an administrative investigation into  Leona's employment practices revealed that Angela Flores and a class of female  employees were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment at one of the  restaurants in the famous chain of Chicago pizzerias.  After the EEOC investigation concluded with a  finding of "reasonable cause" to believe the charges of sexual harassment, the EEOC,  as required by federal statute, invited Leona's to settle the allegations  through process described in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as "conciliation" and  without litigation.

In July 2012, the EEOC and Leona's  entered into an agreement under which Leona's  agreed to pay the victims of the sexual harassment a total of $75,000.  In addition, Leona's agreed to conduct  training of it employees; revise its non-discrimination policy; post a notice  of
  the settlement; and report to EEOC its compliance with the  agreement.  Since that time, however,  Leona's has refused to honor any of its obligations under the settlement  agreement. 

Failing to adhere to a  conciliation agreement with the EEOC violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act  of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S.  District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.  The suit is captioned EEOC v. Leona's Pizzeria, Inc., N.D. Illinois No. 1:12-cv-07335 and  has been assigned to District Judge James B. Zagel.   The federal  agency is seeking enforcement of all terms the conciliation agreement, as well  as its costs for having to bring this action in federal court.

 "The EEOC takes the conciliation process very  seriously -- as it should, since it is mandated by federal law," said John  Rowe, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, who managed the  investigation.  "We negotiated with  Leona's in good faith to resolve the sexual misconduct allegations without forcing  the company into court.  Now that the  company is attempting to walk away from a deal it freely made,  we have no choice except to take it to  court." 

John Hendrickson, the EEOC's  regional attorney in Chicago, said, "Congress put the conciliation process into  the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to give employers the chance to quietly and  quickly deal with discrimination and to get on with their business.  When Leona's or any other employer attempts  to run away from a conciliation agreement, it signals contempt for the law, makes  a mockery of the statutory conciliation process, and damages the victims and  the public interest.  The EEOC is not  going to stand by and watch that happen without taking action."

The EEOC Chicago District Office  is responsible for processing discrimination charges, 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