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Press Release 07-13-2018

Golden Corral Franchisee to Pay $85,000 to Settle  EEOC Disability and Sex Harassment Lawsuit

Restaurant Assistant Manager Physically and Verbally  Abused Autistic Employee and Forced Him to Quit to Escape Harassment, Federal  Agency Charged

Charlotte, N.C. - Jax, LLC, which operates a Golden Corral  restaurant in Matthews, N.C., has agreed to pay $85,000 and provide other  relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged  that Jax discriminated against an employee when it subjected  him to a hostile work environment based on both his disability (autism) and  his sex (male). The EEOC had also charged that the  employee was forced to resign because of the harassment.

According  to the EEOC's suit, Sean Fernandez worked as a dishwasher at the Matthews  Golden Corral. Fernandez has high-functioning autism, which limits his ability  to communicate and interact with others. The EEOC alleged that, from around  March or April 2014 until January 2016, a male assistant manager created a  hostile work environment by repeatedly referring to Fernandez as "retard,"  calling him "stupid," and using profanity. The assistant manager also asked for  oral sex from Fernandez, threatened to sexually assault him, and subjected him  to unwanted physical contact, the EEOC said. Fernandez filed a complaint with  the general and district managers, but the company failed to take effective  action to prevent and correct the hostile work environment. Fernandez resigned  his employment because he was fearful of encountering the assistant manager  again, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with  Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on  their disabilities, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which  prohibits sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court  for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division (EEOC v. Jax,  LLC d/b/a Golden Corral, Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-535) after first attempting  to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary  relief to Fernandez, Jax, LLC entered into a two-year consent decree requiring  the company to implement an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits  disability-based and sex-based discrimination. The decree further requires the  company to conduct annual training for its Matthews employees and managers on  the ADA and Title VII. Jax must also post an employee notice about the lawsuit  and about employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws at its  Matthews facility, and must provide periodic reports to the EEOC.

"Employers must take appropriate action to stop employees  from harassing other employees," said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney  for the EEOC's Charlotte District. "It is particularly problematic when the  harassment is perpetrated by a supervisor. The EEOC takes the conduct and an  employer's failure to stop it seriously, and will prosecute cases where this  kind of abuse occurs."

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.