Former restaurant waitresses sue for sexual harassment by managers

Posted in Sexual Harassment on December 4, 2013

One of the oldest adages in business is the idea that “sex sells.” Even when the product being sold has nothing to do with sex (such as at a restaurant), few businesses have ever gone broke by hiring attractive employees.

But such a business model is often a double-edged sword. On one hand, restaurants can bring in a lot of business by hiring beautiful women to wait tables and serve customers. On the other hand, these same employees often become the target of sexual harassment perpetrated by rowdy customers and even restaurant managers.

According to a recent news article, sexual harassment has been a pervasive problem at two Daytona Beach-area restaurants called “Ker’s WingHouse.” The franchise of restaurants was started by former NFL star Crawford Ker.

The company’s website makes clear that good food is not the primary draw to the restaurants. The site says: “The main attraction at the WingHouse is our version of ‘The Girl Next Door,’ the World Famous WingHouse Girls.” But five of the restaurant’s former “main attractions” recently filed a lawsuit alleging that they were sexually harassed by male managers and that the company condoned a hostile work environment.

The lawsuit was filed after the plaintiffs submitted a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; which found reasonable evidence to substantiate their allegations. According to the lawsuit, male managers have committed the following acts:

  • Putting a peephole looking in to the staff break room in order to watch waitresses change into their work outfits
  • Insulting female workers by telling them they were “stupid” and “lucky to be pretty,” among other things
  • Playing a game with each other to see which female employees they could get to cry first
  • Groping female employees
  • Making inappropriate sexual comments to/about female employees
  • Giving preferential treatment to female employees who agreed to call them by pet names and to give them massages

The plaintiffs also allege that the company retaliated against them after they complained about harassment. Some were fired outright, and others were forced to quit because working conditions became increasingly hostile.

While these specific allegations come from restaurants in Florida, nearly identical incidents commonly occur in restaurants here in California and across the country. And when victims choose to fight back (as these women have), it sends a powerful message that such behavior cannot and will not be tolerated in the workplace.

Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal, “5 Daytona WingHouse servers file sexual harassment suit,” Frank Fernandez, Nov. 29, 2013