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California restaurant agrees to settlement with EEOC

Category: Hostile Work Environment, Retaliation, Sexual Harassment

A restaurant located in San Ysidro, California, has agreed to pay $27,500 and revise its sexual harassment policies to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The suit alleged that the company subjected Mexican-American male employees to sexual abuse and retaliated against one employee after he complained. According to the suit, a 24-year-old employee secretly taped the victims using the restroom.

The victim who complained was demoted to busing tables, was given fewer and less favorable hours and was subject to increasing amounts of discipline. While the EEOC did bring about legal action against the restaurant, it attempted to reach a voluntary settlement between the parties involved. In addition to the fine and policy revisions, the restaurant will offer annual training for all employees and will regularly report to the EEOC.

There are many actions that could be construed as sexual harassment on the job. For instance, making jokes or other comments about a person’s looks could be considered harassment whether its done in front of that person or when he or she is not present. Harassment could also include unwanted sexual advances or asking for sexual favors in exchange for preferential treatment at work such as a promotion or raise.

Although most workplace sexual harassment is directed by men towards women, either gender can be a target and it can also take place between people of the same sex. Employment law attorneys will advise their clients who have been victimized by such behavior to first follow the complaint procedures set forth in their company manual. Should this prove unfruitful, the next step could be the filing of a claim with the EEOC or the applicable state agency.

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