Tennessee Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $25,000, Training Ordered

Monday, January 2, 2012
Question:  Would sexual harassment training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Rafael’s Italian Restaurant, a Tennessee  restaurant chain, has agreed to pay $25,000 and furnish other relief to settle  a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC).

The  EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:10-CV-00070) charged that Rafael’s Italian  Restaurant violated federal law by subjecting a class of female employees,  including some teenagers, to sexual harassment.  The EEOC alleged that as far back as 2005, male kitchen workers at a  Tullahoma, Tenn., Rafael’s repeatedly subjected female employees, two of whom  were teens at the time, to egregious acts of sexual harassment including crude  comments, requests for sex and physical touching -- which encompassed using  vegetables to simulate sodomy and to hit the victims between their legs. The EEOC alleged that, despite repeated  complaints from several of the women, management ignored the problem.

Failure to correct known sexual harassment, whether by a co-worker or  customer, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The  EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District  of Tennessee, Winchester Division after  first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process.

In addition to monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the  lawsuit enjoins Rafael’s Italian Restaurant from further discriminating against  female employees. Rafael’s Italian  Restaurant will provide annual training on employee rights under Title VII and  must maintain records of sexual harassment complaints and provide annual  reports to the EEOC. The decree also  requires Rafael’s Italian Restaurant to establish and enforce a written policy  that will protect employees from discrimination in the workplace and post a  notice to all employees about the lawsuit that provides the EEOC’s contact  information.

Rafael’s Italian Restaurant is one  of several restaurants operated by Santos Macias across Tennessee.

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