"No employee should feel that they have to consent to unwanted sexual advances in order to maintain their employment..."
A federal judge has ordered Mexicali Chicken & Salads, an El Centro, Calif.-based restaurant, to pay $27,692 to resolve a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a female employee who was sexually harassed by her manager and then fired when she complained, the federal agency announced today.
EEOC charged that the restaurant manager sexually harassed a young shift supervisor, who rejected his advances and shortly thereafter complained of the harassing behavior to another manager. Within days of the employee's complaint and rejection of the manager's sexual advances, the female employee was terminated. The federal court found a substantial monetary amount was warranted, recognizing that "Mexicali Chicken's conduct, through its managers' actions and inaction, was wrongful and flagrantly violated federal law."
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Mexicali Chicken & Salads, Case No. 3:15-cv-02164-AJB-JMA) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"No employee should feel that they have to consent to unwanted sexual advances in order to maintain their employment," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California's Imperial County. "Employers have a duty under the law to not only investigate claims of harassment but to also provide a workplace free of reprisal. Mexicali failed to engage in these efforts and the decision by the court will send a clear message to all employers that harassment and retaliation will not be tolerated."
"Young workers can be more vulnerable to harassment in the workplace, as they may be unaware of their rights and the protections afforded to them by federal law," said Christopher Green, director for EEOC's San Diego Local Office. "Employers should have appropriate anti-harassment policies and reporting procedures in place to protect their workers from unwelcome behavior and retaliation.
Information regarding the EEOC's Youth @Work education and outreach efforts directed at young workers can be found at www.eeoc.gov/youth/.
EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov
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