Human Resources News & Insights

New sexual harassment settlements: From apology letters to misdemeanors

Three restaurants or restaurant chains have all recently settled egregious sexual harassment claims — including one class-action suit stemming from 1988 against a popular fast-food establishment.

From touching to rape

In the most expensive agreement of the three, the largest franchisee of Burger King restaurants in the U.S. recently agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit originally filed in 1988.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed that dozens of women employed at restaurants owned by the Carrols Corporation were subjected to everything from unwanted touching and innuendo to strip searches and rape.

The EEOC identified 511 women it believed were sexually harassed, and over the years that number dwindled to 88 former employees and one current one.

In addition to the monetary settlement, which will go to the 89 former or current staff members, Carrols will add to its anti-harassment policies, conduct training and report results to the EEOC.

Chef charged with battery

The second settlement comes out of Merrill, WI, where one of the cooks at New Pine Ridge Restaurant allegedly created a hostile work environment for employees.

According to the EEOC’s case, Shahi N. Selmani grabbed waitresses’ breasts and made crude remarks to them.The restaurant’s owner responded by firing some of the women who complained.

The EEOC sued on the waitresses’ behalf, and the restaurant opted to settle for $41,000.

Selmani later pled no contest to having committed Class A misdemeanor battery against three waitresses and, after pleading no contest to a similar case, was ordered to participate in and complete a sex offender treatment program.

Sheesh.

Owner will write apology letters

Finally, the owner of ABC Cake Shop & Bakery in Albuquerque, NM, has settled a sexual discrimination lawsuit and will pay at least 19 women a portion of the $220,000 agreement.

The EEOC claimed that the owner of the shop subjected female staff to innuendo, touching and sexual comments. Some of the employees were teenagers at the time.

In addition to the monetary settlement, ABC will provide anti-discrimination training to staff as well as provide the women involved with letters of reference and apology letters.

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