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Category: Hostile Work Environment, Retaliation, Sexual Harassment

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against a California restaurant on Sept. 6 for sexually harassing some of its employees and then retaliating against those who complained. The San Diego area Mexican restaurant was sued for violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act after conciliation efforts failed to lead to a settlement. The EEOC is seeking an injunction to prevent further harassment or retaliation as well as compensatory damages and back pay for the workers concerned.

According to the EEOC lawsuit, a manager at the restaurant used a cellphone to record male workers as they used a staff restroom. The workers were all Mexican-Americans between 19 and 21 years of age. One of the men involved filed a complaint with the owners of the restaurant and the San Diego Police Department after learning about the surreptitious filming.

The EEOC claims that not only did the restaurant fail to take adequate measures after learning of the alleged sexual harassment, but it compounded their malfeasance by retaliating against the worker who reported the filming. According to the EEOC, the man was demoted and saw his schedule cut from five days to two days per week. The EEOC said that the hostile working environment created by these and other disciplinary measures forced the man to quit his job and seek employment elsewhere.

Many employees who face sexual harassment while on the job are reluctant to come forward due to fears of retaliatory or disciplinary action, and this is particularly true for those who work in areas where jobs are scarce. An attorney with experience in workplace harassment cases could explain to those in this situation the protections provided by California and Federal employment laws.

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