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Press Release 09-27-2018

EEOC Sues Christini's Ristorante Italiano For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Italian Restaurant Sexually Harassed Female Bartender And Fired Her For Complaining, Federal Agency Charges

ORLANDO - Christini's, Inc., d/b/a Christini's Ristorante Italiano ("Christini's"), an Italian restaurant located in Orlando's famous "Restaurant Row," violated federal law when it subjected a female bartender to sexual harassment and then fired her for opposing the misconduct, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") announced in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the female bartender began working at Christini's in 2015. The EEOC alleges Chris Christini, the restaurant's owner, created, permitted and encouraged a work environment that made unwelcome, sexually charged comments and conduct permissible and commonplace. Consequently, the female bartender was repeatedly propositioned to go out on dates, described to restaurant patrons as single and available to date them, subjected to sexual innuendo and was told to dress "sexy" and "date ready," among other things. In retaliation for the female bartender's complaints about sexually harassing conduct by a new manager, she was fired in March 2017.

Such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex, and also from retaliating against workers who object to discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the statute, and has been the recent subject of the EEOC's Select Task Force on Harassment, which reconvened on June 11, 2018.

The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division (EEOC v. Christini's, Inc., d/b/a Christini's Ristorante Italiano, Case No. 6:18-cv-1609-ORL-41TBS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages for the discrimination victim and injunctive relief.

"Federal law guarantees employees the right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace and not be subjected to retaliation when employees complain of the harassment and ask that it stop. It is, therefore, incumbent upon employers to ensure complaints of sexual harassment are taken seriously and handled appropriately. The law is clear that nothing less will be tolerated," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District, which includes Orlando within its jurisdiction.

Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC's Miami District, said, "No one should ever be subject to sexual harassment at their place of work. The EEOC stands with victims of sexual harassment and remains committed to eradicating sexual harassment from the workplace."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.