EEOC Suit: Restaurant Manager Sexually Harassed Two Sisters – One After The Other

Just a couple of months ago I posted a news story from Canada about an academic study which found that “Female servers have to put up with a lot of sexual harassment on the job.”  The study “found low wages and a dependence on tips makes some female servers more vulnerable to sexual harassment from customers and colleagues.”

By “servers,” they meant waitresses.

A new suit brought by the EEOC against a South Carolina Applebee’s illustrates this situation.

The EEOC says that “This incredible case – where an abusive manager allegedly harassed one sister and then another – reinforces the crucial need for employers to take appropriate action to stop unwelcome sexual com­ments and misconduct in the workplace.”

It is alleged that a male assistant manager subjected a waitress to harassment which “included comments about the size of her breasts, com­paring salad dressing to semen, and propositioning [her] for sex.”  To make matters worse, it is further alleged that the same assistant manager sexually harassed her sister, who started working there later, which “included comments regarding female genitalia and as well as propo­sitions for sex.”  The complaint alleges that “the assistant manager touched both women inappro­priately.”

The EEOC says that management was aware of all of this but did nothing until “a male relative of one of the women threatened to address the situation personally.”

I can imagine how he intended to proceed.

And I can imagine how the sisters might have wanted to “address the situation.”

Takeaway:  I’ve said this before – many times. 

We know that female servers are vulnerable to sexual harassment.  Therefore, employers should understand that, from the top down, an anti-discrimination and anti-harassment tone and policy must be set, and all management personnel as well as line workers must be trained and educated in the basics of discrimination and harassment law, and compliance and its application in the workplace.

Employers should not tolerate discrimination or harassment in any form, and must make it clear by words and deeds that employees have the right to complain about such acts and that their complaints will be heard, investigated and, if good cause is found, remediated promptly.

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Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]