Chain of Franchises Subjected Employees to Sexual Harassment and Retaliation, Federal Agency Charges

Friday, March 1, 2019
HR Classroom Sexual Harassment Training Tips:  Online Discrimination and Harassment training that instructs an employee how to report problems at work, and assures them they will not be retaliated against for making a report, will often lessen the consequences of bad actors.  Online Interviewing and Hiring TrainingDiscipline and Termination Training, and Online Sexual Harassment Training of supervisors and employees may have prevented this costly case with the EEOC, and protected the employees involved.

Pancake Chain IHOP to Pay $700,000 to Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit
Chain of Franchises Subjected Employees to Sexual Harassment and Retaliation, Federal Agency Charges

LAS VEGAS - Several franchisees of the popular IHOP restaurant chain in Nevada and New York will pay $700,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The U.S. District Court of Nevada has approved a consent decree filed by the EEOC.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, IHOP owners, supervisors, managers and co-workers subjected female employees to ongoing egregious sexual harassment in both Nevada and New York locations. The harassment included groping; sending pictures of male genitalia; propositions for sex; viewing of porno­graphy; vulgar comments; and unwanted touching and kissing. The company failed to take corrective action when the victims complained, instead taking retaliatory action against them, including reducing their work hours and firing them.

In addition, since 2005, the company had in place a written sexual harassment policy that required complaints to be made to the corporate office in writing within 72 hours of the harassing incident. This policy deterred victims of harassment from reporting, removed the responsibility of local managers and supervisors to correct harassment that they were aware of, and emboldened the abusers, the EEOC contends.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against the following entities after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process: Lucinda Management, LLC, Centennial Food Corporation dba IHOP Restaurant, Nellis Food Corporation dba IHOP Restaurant, Vegas Food Corpor­ation dba IHOP Restaurant, Cheyenne Food Corporation dba IHOP Restaurant, Craig Food Corp­or­ation dba IHOP Restaurant, Bayshore Food Corporation dba IHOP Restaurant, DiHop Corporation dba IHOP Restaurant, and Cooper Street Clam and Oyster Bar, LLC, in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC v. Lucinda Management, LLC., et. al., Case Number: 2:17-cv-02458).

The consent decree settling the suit, which remains under the court's jurisdiction for the decree's five-year term, provides $700,000 for a class of female employees. Additionally, Lucinda Management et. al., will eliminate the 72-hour policy for reporting harassment; establish and maintain a human resources department; hire an outside monitor; and create performance review standards for compliance with Title VII. The company will also provide extensive training to their management officials to prevent and correct harassment and retaliation, along with civility training.

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