EEOC Sues Broward County Restaurant Chain for Sexual Harassment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that it is filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Broward County, Florida IHOP franchise. According to the allegations raised by the agency, the restaurant violated federal labor laws in its failure to stop workplace sexual harassment. In this article, our experienced West Palm Beach employment law attorneys explain the allegations against the restaurant franchise and we highlight the two different types of sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Allegations: Owner/Manager Sexually Harassed Employees
The complaint from the EEOC alleges that the owner and general manager of Swami Pancake, LLC — a company that owned and operated an IHOP franchise in Plantation, Florida — sexually harassed several female staff members. Specifically, the agency contends that the manager:
- Propositioned female servers for dates while on the job;
- Made crude and unwelcome sexual comments; and
- Made inappropriate and unacceptable physical contact with female staff members.
The sexual harassment lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Among other things, the agency is seeking back pay for the affected staff members, other compensatory damages, punitive compensation, and the appropriate injunctive relief.
Understanding the Two Types of Sexual Harassment
Under U.S. federal employment law — specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — there are two different types of workplace sexual harassment. First, there is quid pro quo sexual harassment. Essentially, quid pro quo sexual harassment involves the promise of a benefit in exchange for sexual favors. For example, a female staff member may be offered better hours or a promotion in return for a date with a manager. This is unlawful. It is sexual harassment.
The second type is hostile work environment sexual harassment. A hostile work environment is a workplace in which a reasonable person would feel uncomfortable or unwelcome due to the severe or pervasive nature of the inappropriate sexual behavior. A hostile work environment can take many different forms. It could involve offensive comments, crude “jokes”, constant propositioning, or other unwelcome advances. In either case, Title VII strictly prohibits workplace sexual harassment.
If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual harassment while on the job, you should contact an experienced employment law attorney right way. Companies need to take proactive measures to eliminate sexual harassment. Employers can be held liable for sexual harassment from managers and supervisors. In addition, companies can also be held liable for the misconduct of lower level workers and, in some cases, even for sexual harassment that comes from customers.
Speak to Our West Palm Beach Employment Lawyers Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Palm Beach County employment law attorneys have the skills and knowledge needed to handle the full range of workplace sexual harassment claims. We represent both companies and employees in South Florida. To get immediate assistance from an experienced employment lawyer, please call us at our West Palm Beach office or at our Miami office.