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Press Release 09-19-2017

IHOP Restaurants Sued by EEOC For Sexual Harassment

Conduct Included Simulated Sex Acts, Solicitations for Sex, and Physical Threats, Federal Agency Charges

ST. LOUIS - Two related International House of Pancakes (IHOP) franchises violated federal law when the male general manager and at least two cooks at the Glen Carbon, Ill., restaurant sexually harassed numerous female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a discrimination lawsuit filed today in federal court. The EEOC's lawsuit also alleges that two of these female employees, including a 17-year-old high school student, were forced to resign due to the egregious sexual harassment. Additionally, the suit alleges that the male general manager at a related Alton, Illinois IHOP restaurant sexually harassed a male employee.

According to the EEOC's suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Case No. 3:17-cv-01002, more than 11 female employees at the Glen Carbon IHOP were subjected to unlawful sexual harassment including regular and repeated sexual touching and grabbing, lewd sexual comments and requests for sex, and offensive and threatening gestures. The general manager at the Alton restaurant made lewd and offensive comments to a male cook about his genitals and propositioned him for sex. Although the owner and managers were aware of the pervasive and egregious sexual harassment at both restaurants, they failed to investigate or take any action to prevent or stop the unlawful harassment, according to the suit.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from sexual harassment and termination or forced resignation because of such misconduct.  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-suit resolution through the EEOC's conciliation process.

"The sexual harassment in this case is particularly disturbing because it involved the general managers of both restaurants, both of whom were close relatives of the owner, and the owner declined to take any action," said James R. Neely, Jr., the district director of the EEOC's St. Louis District. 

"Sexual harassment in the workplace is always shocking," said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney of the EEOC's St. Louis District. "But harassment of teenagers and young adults is particularly egregious."

The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois. The EEOC advances opportunity by enforcing federal laws prohibiting workplace discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.