EEOC nabs settlement in another restaurant sexual harassment case
We have written many previous posts about sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. There are a number of reasons why harassment tends to be pervasive in these settings, including the fact that certain restaurant work (like waiting tables) is often viewed as a job but not necessarily a career. Those who commit sexual harassment may be expecting victims to quit rather than file a complaint.
Thankfully, there are victims willing to speak up and to hold their employers responsible for the misconduct of certain workers. One of the most recent cases involves a restaurant chain that settled a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $450,000.
The restaurant involved is part of a chain of restaurants named “Cheddars Casual Café.” The company is based in Texas, but the particular restaurant where harassment occurred was a franchise run by a Kentucky-based company called Mint Julep Restaurant Operations. Mint Julep operates 42 Cheddars Café restaurants.
According the EEOC, managers at a Cheddars location in Memphis, Tennessee both participated in and condoned sexual harassment against a group of female employees. The general manager and a bar manager, specifically, were accused of subjecting female employees to explicit sexual comments, unwelcome touching and requests for sexual favors. Mint Julep was accused of permitting sexual jokes and conversations as well as failing to protect workers from sexual harassment.
The $450,000 settlement will be shared between 15 individuals who were victims of harassment. Although Mint Julep settled with no admission of wrongdoing, it also agreed to install/maintain workplace cameras and to conduct mandatory anti-harassment training.
This specific case happened in Memphis, but similar cases happen all around the country, including throughout California. Hopefully, the courage and self-advocacy displayed by these 15 employees will prompt more companies to realize that harassment-prevention responsibilities must be taken seriously.