Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Sexual harassment in the workplace can create an extremely hostile work environment for the victim of the act and unfortunately, even when those victims speak out, they are not always heard. In a recent case, the voices of sexual harassment victims were finally heard and changes were finally enforced.

Restaurant workers in California can understand that sexual harassment is sometimes hard to identify for managers in the restaurant industry due to a high rate of turnover. But what happens when management blatantly ignores claims of such harassment? That’s what happened at a restaurant in Tennessee called Rafael’s Italian Restaurant, and now the owners are paying for it.

After being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the restaurant chain agreed to pay $25,000, as well as agreeing to a few other terms in order to settle the lawsuit. The EEOC says male kitchen workers at one of the restaurant locations were harassing some of their female workers, two of whom were teenagers at the time. According to the allegations against the restaurant, the men asked for sex, touched the victims, and made crude comments to them. They even went as far as simulating sex acts with vegetables and hitting the females between their legs. Although the women told their managers, nothing was done to eradicate the problem.

The restaurant has agreed to annual employee rights training and must keep a record of any sexual harassment complaints, providing them to the EEOC yearly. There will also be a written policy about discrimination at the restaurant and access to the EEOC’s contact information, as well as a notice about the lawsuit.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Rafael’s Italian Restaurant Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit,” Jan. 18, 2012