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Press Release 09-22-2022

IHOP Franchisee Pays $125,000 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Company Failed to Stop Abuse of Teenaged Employees by Manager, Federal Agency Charged

BALTIMORE – Koerner Management Group, Inc. (KMG), which operates IHOP restaurants in Maryland and Virginia, has agreed to pay $125,000 and provide significant injunctive and other non-monetary relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the company by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that at least two female, teenaged KMG employees were subjected to pervasive sexual harassment by a male manager. The alleged harassment included graphic sexual comments and questions about employees’ sex lives, groping, displaying pornographic material, and conditioning employment actions on responses to the manager’s sexual propositions. The lawsuit also charges that KMG was aware of the manager’s conduct but did not take appropriate steps to address it. Further, the employees were forced to quit because of the harassment, the EEOC said.

KMG’s alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrim­ination because of sex, including sexual harassment. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Case No. 1:21-cv-00652GLR) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case was litigated by EEOC Trial Attorney Thomas Rethage and Super­visory Trial Attorney Maria Morocco.

In addition to the $125,000 in monetary relief, as part of the consent decree resolving the lawsuit, KMG has agreed to take affirmative steps to prevent and correct discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This includes implementation of enhanced companywide anti-discrimination and harassment policies and reporting procedures. It also includes the engagement of a third-party employment law professional to investigate com­plaints and identify appropriate corrective actions, substantive training for managers, and employee education on rights and protections. The decree will remain in effect for four years and is subject to compliance monitor­ing by the EEOC.

“All employers have an obligation to protect their employees from sexual harassment,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “This obligation is especially acute in the food service and similar industries where employees -- and for that matter, managers -- are often young and in­experienced. For many, it’s their first job. In such an environment, it is critical that employers take proactive steps to train and educate staff, ensure oversight and promptly correct any harassment.”

Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains prevalent in the restaurant industry. It’s critical to remind victims that sexual harassment is against the law, they do not have to tolerate it at work, and they are protected when they complain. We applaud the women in this case for their bravery in coming forward.”  

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

For more information on sexual harassment, please visit

The EEOC’s Youth@Work website (at ) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.

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.