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Press Release 02-06-2012

EEOC Wins Jury Verdict for Retaliation Victims at Atlanta-Area Restaurant

Waitress and  Three Family Members Fired for Reporting Misconduct, Federal  Agency Charged

ATLANTA – A federal jury has  awarded $51,700 in back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to four family  members who were fired for resisting sexual harassment at a Tucker, Ga., restaurant, the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the EEOC's suit,  Lauren Goldston, a waitress for Sangria's Mexican Café, engaged in protected  activity when she opposed and complained about unwelcome sexual advances,  remarks, and inappropriate touching by a male cook at the restaurant. Lauren Goldston's mother, Sara, aunt,  Francesca, and uncle, Max, also worked at Sangria's. They all reported the sexual harassment to  Sangria's' owner on several occasions, the EEOC said, but nothing was done by  the company to remedy the hostile work environment. Instead of ending the harassment, the EEOC  charged, Sangria's terminated all of the Goldstons in retaliation for reporting  the misconduct.

The Atlanta jury of eight returned a unanimous  verdict finding that the claimants were entitled to back pay in the amount of  $4,000, as the Goldstons largely mitigated their back pay damages by finding  other employment after they were fired.  The jury also awarded compensatory damages in the amount of $22,000 and  punitive damages in the amount of $15,700.

"This verdict is significant  because it indicates to employers that, regardless of their size, they must  afford their employees the statutorily protected right to oppose unlawful  discrimination without the fear of retaliation," said Bernice Williams  Kimbrough, district director for the Atlanta District Office.

Robert Dawkins, regional attorney  for the EEOC in Atlanta,  added, "Suing a small employer is a difficult proposition. However, the EEOC pursued this case to  prevent similar acts of retaliation from recurring. In this case, the jury did a fabulous job. Their verdict was fair, thoughtful and well  reasoned as they attempted to balance compensating the Goldstons on one hand  while ensuring the economic viability of the restaurant going forward."

The EEOC is  responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available  on its web site at