Diversity & Inclusion

Recent EEOC settlements and enforcement actions

by Cynthia Ozger-Pascu 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is continuing its aggressive pursuit of sexual harassment and discrimination claims through systemic enforcement actions.

EEOC settles long-standing sexual harassment suit

On January 9, the EEOC announced a $2.5 million settlement with Burger King Corporation regarding sexual harassment allegations on behalf of 89 female employees. The EEOC filed the lawsuit in 1998, charging managers with unwelcome and offensive sexual conduct, including touching female employees’ breasts and buttocks and engaging in sexually explicit discussions.

Besides the $2.5 million that Burger King must compensate the class members, a two-year consent decree provides for nonmonetary relief. Burger King must provide employee training on sexual harassment, establish a telephone hotline and an e-mail address dedicated to sexual harassment complaints, audit the HR practices of its various restaurants, and modify its manager evaluation forms to address compliance with the company’s equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies.

EEOC settles second sexual harassment suit against Indiana restaurant

A Michigan City, Indiana, restaurant owned and operated by Faros, Inc., has agreed to pay $20,000 to settle claims of sexual harassment with the EEOC. The agency charged that the owner failed to respond to complaints that a male server sexually harassed a female coworker for several months by engaging in sexual innuendo and propositions that escalated to unwanted touching. The EEOC further charged that Faros retaliated against the victim by reducing her wages after she complained.

Faros paid only $20,000 to settle the case, but a consent decree will remain in effect for four years, allowing the EEOC to scrutinize the company’s compliance efforts for a longer period. The agency filed a previous suit against Faros for allegedly allowing a supervisor at its Lighthouse restaurant, also in Michigan City, to sexually harass a female worker.

EEOC enters into five-year consent decree with mobility provider

The EEOC has settled Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims for $99,000 in a consent decree with Scooter Store-Levittown, a store that offers scooters and wheelchairs to disabled persons. In addition to the payment settling the disability discrimination claims, the company must distribute a nondiscrimination and antiretaliation policy to its employees, provide online and other training for employees, and comply with posting and reporting requirements. The consent decree is in effect for five years.

EEOC files sex discrimination lawsuit

The EEOC has filed suit against another mobility provider, W.M.K. Inc. d/b/a Mobility Works. In its sex discrimination suit, the EEOC alleges that the company discharged a top female sales associate because of her sex, even though she had a higher volume of sales than male associates.

Cynthia Ozger-Pascu  is an associated with Fortney & Scott, LLC in Washington, D.C. She advises clients in all areas of employment law, ranging from agency enforcement actions to wage and hour audits, affirmative action compliance reviews, and workplace investigations. She may be contacted at cozger-pascu@fortneyscott.com.

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