FRESNO – Sal’s Mexican Restaurant in Fresno, Calif., has settled a sexual harassment charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $15,000, the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the restaurant subjected a teenaged hostess to sexual harassment.
According to the EEOC, a hostess was sexually harassed by a male supervisor in 2009, while she was still a teenager. The supervisor allegedly made unwanted sexual propositions and advances, grabbed her body parts and tried to kiss her. The hostess further alleged that he required her to give hugs and back rubs as a condition of employment due to her gender. She contends that repeated complaints to restaurant management about the behavior were not addressed. The harassment and discrimination allegedly continued until the hostess felt compelled to resign in 2010.
The former hostess subsequently filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC in 2010. The EEOC ultimately found reasonable cause to believe that the restaurant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the sexual harassment, intimidation, discrimination and constructive discharge to which she was subjected due to her gender.
Without admitting liability, Sal’s Mexican Restaurant entered into a two-year conciliation agreement with the EEOC and the former hostess, thereby avoiding litigation. Aside from the monetary relief, the restaurant agreed to hire a third-party consultant to help create, revise and implement new policies and procedures to address and prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The restaurant also agreed to provide all employees with live training on their rights and responsibilities with respect to discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The agreement also requires that the restaurant establish a record-keeping system to track and monitor complaints. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement.
“Employers have an obligation to ensure a workplace free of harassment and discrimination, particularly for our youngest workers who may be more vulnerable to abuses,” said Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office. “We hope that more employers will follow the commitment of Sal’s Mexican Restaurant by implementing measures that will both prevent and address sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination on the job.”
The EEOC recently updated its Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/), which presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. The website also contains curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce.
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.