Press Release 06-12-2020

GRK Fresh Greek to Pay $32,000 to Settle Sexual Harassment Suit

Restaurant Chain’s Manager Abused Female Employees Physically and Verbally, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK – GRK Fresh Greek, a small chain of New York City restaurants currently closed due to the pandemic, will pay $32,000 and take other steps to settle a sex harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, GRK's former district manager touched women in vulgar personal and sexual ways. He also talked about wanting them to lose weight or wear tighter clothing and discussed his and their sex lives, the EEOC said.

According to the lawsuit, female employees complained to the district manager and other managers, but nothing was done. The EEOC said that with no end in sight to this harassment, some employees felt compelled to resign.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination — including harassment — because of sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (EEOC v. GRK Fresh Holdings LLC et al., Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-04614) after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“The brave workers who came forward made this settlement possible,” said EEOC trial attorney Daniel Seltzer, who litigated this case along with supervisory trial attorney Nora Curtin. “Thanks to them, future GRK employees will be better protected from sexual harassment.”

In addition to the $32,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit requires GRK to not rehire the harassing manager; provide extensive training to two managers assuming responsibility for preventing and remedying harassment; and train all employees and managers regard­ing the statutes enforced by the EEOC and GRK’s revised anti-discrimination policy. GRK must also promptly report to the EEOC about its handling of sexual harassment complaints. The EEOC will monitor GRK’s compliance with these obligations for the next three years.

Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, said, “In light of the significant negative effect of the pandemic on GRK’s operations, the EEOC is pleased that it was nevertheless able to obtain compensation for workers who were sexually harassed.”

The EEOC’s New York acting district director, Judy Keenan, added, “No one in the restaurant or any other industry should have to endure sexual harassment. The EEOC will continue to work to ensure that they don’t.”

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

Preventing systemic harassment through enforcement and targeted outreach is a national priority identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). To learn more about EEOC's strategic plan and enforcement priorities, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep-2017.cfm        

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