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Press Release 07-12-2022

Green Lantern and Pullman Associates to Pay $60,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit

Rochester-Based Company Created Sexually Hostile Work Environment for Female Employees, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK – Green-Lantern Inn, Inc. and Pullman Associates, LLC, two commonly-owned Rochester, New York-based companies that own and operate the Mr. Dominic’s on Main and Mr. Dominic’s at the Lake restaurants in Rochester, New York, will pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Rachel Clifford and other female employees were subjected to a hostile working environment by a male head chef and kitchen manager, including sexually explicit derogatory comments and threats of physical harm.  When the employees opposed the male chef’s conduct, they were retaliated against in the form of unfair discipline and interference with customer orders, EEOC alleged.  Mr. Dominic’s failed to take any remedial action and constructively discharged the employees after they complained of the intolerable work environment, EEOC charged.        

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees because of their sex.  The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The case was litigated by EEOC Trial Attorney Cara Chomski, supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Sara Smolik. 

 “The EEOC is committed to addressing sexual harassment in the restaurant industry,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for EEOC’s New York District. “We appreciate Mr. Dominic’s recognition of its responsibility to provide a harassment-free workplace, including its commitment to engage an independent investigator to handle complaints going forward. The EEOC is committed to vigorously enforcing anti-discrimination laws on behalf of all restaurant industry workers.”

The five-year consent decree settling the suit provides a total of $60,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to be distributed to the employees of the restaurant who were subject to sex harassment. The consent decree also provides for significant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further discrimination.  These provisions include an injunction prohibiting future discrimination; extensive anti-discrimination and harassment training, revisions to company EEO policies and procedures for investigating sex harassment complaints; hiring of an independent outside investigator to investigate all complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation in Mr. Dominic’s workplace; and a requirement to report all complaints of sex discrimination and/or retaliation to the EEOC.  Mr. Dominic’s also agreed not to employ the head chef who participated in the harassment and general manager who failed to respond to employees’ complaints for the duration of the decree.  The EEOC will monitor Mr. Dominic’s compliance with these obligations for the next five years. 

EEOC New York District Director Judy Keenan said, “Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains prevalent in the restaurant industry.  Company leaders set the tone for their workplace culture, and when they disregard employees’ complaints of workplace harassment, their companies can be held liable.” 

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and conducting agency enforcement actions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

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