$350,000 Sex Harassment Settlement by Taco Bell

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Taco Bell Corporation will pay a total of $350,000 in monetary damages to two young women to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced. The EEOC had charged that two teenaged workers were assaulted at a Memphis Taco Bell.

The EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 2:07-cv-02579, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis) charged that Terence E. Davis, a former manager at Taco Bell’s restaurant No. 613 on Frayser Boulevard in Memphis, sexually assaulted a 16-year-old female employee on her first day of work. The EEOC said Davis sexually assaulted the young woman on the work premises and then tried to follow her as she fled home. The EEOC also uncovered evidence during discovery that Davis had forcibly raped another 16-year-old female employee just five months earlier. The EEOC moved to amend its complaint to add the second female and asserted that it had sought her identity during the investigation of the charge. The court granted the motion and allowed the EEOC to add her as a claimant.

This type of workplace misconduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual assaults as the most egregious forms of sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit against Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell Corporation after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

Davis pled guilty in 2009 to raping both women and is currently serving two concurrent eight-year prison terms. Upon his release, Davis will be required to register permanently as a sex offender under the Sex Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration, Verification, and Tracking Act of 2004. In addition, as a convicted rapist, Davis will never again be permitted to work in any job employing minors under the age of 18. EEOC had no involvement in the criminal proceedings.

“Sexual harassment is always unconscionable, but this situation was especially so, given the extreme nature of the assaults and the youth and vulnerability of the victims,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC is here to fight such abuse.”

The consent decree effects eight stores in the Memphis metropolitan area referred to by Taco Bell as Area 3082.

Taco Bell will pay a total of $350,000 under the terms of the two-year consent decree entered by Judge Bernice Donald to resolve the claims of the two harassment victims. Taco Bell will maintain a written policy against sexual harassment and will widely distribute it to all employees in Area 3082 within 30 days of the entry of the decree. The company will also conduct anti-discrimination training and posting of anti-discrimination notices.

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