In a recent EEOC lawsuit, a franchisee of Dunkin' Donuts has been accused of sexually harassing teenaged female employees. The franchisee which owns several stores in New York, has been charged with not only engaging in harassment, but also for terminating a female employee for reporting the harassment to the police.
Harassment allegations against the Store Manager
According to the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, the Dunkin' Donuts store manager, employed by Hillcrest Marshall, Inc., was accused of saying almost daily that he wanted to have a "threesome" with the women, many of whom were in their teens. He talked about his genitals, tried to kiss one female employee, and pressured another female employee to have sex. Frustrated with one employee's rejection of his sexual advances, the manager smacked her face, routinely cursed and yelled at her and sent her home several times before her shift was over. When the 18-year-old employee contacted the police to report the harassment, she was terminated.
The protections provided under Title VII
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may not subject employees to a hostile work environment because of sex and cannot retaliate against employees for resisting or making complaints.
The basis of the EEOC's lawsuit
The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Hillcrest Marshall, Inc., d/b/a Dunkin' Donuts, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No. 7:15-CV-7293) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. As one of the EEOC attorneys involved in the case so aptly put it, "[t]argeting teenaged female workers is especially inexcusable. Our most vulnerable workers must be protected against sexual advances at work, and EEOC is here to help do that."
Damages sought in the lawsuit
The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction that would bar Hillcrest from engaging in sexual harassment or retaliation for protected activity. The suit also seeks to compensate the terminated employee, along with other similarly aggrieved female employees, for backpay, nonpecuniary losses and punitive damages, according to the complaint. EEOC's lawsuit also seeks relief meant to remedy and prevent future harassment or retaliation at the company.
EEOC's New York District Director, Kevin Berry, gave the following statement: "It took a great deal of courage for these young women to come forward and speak up against the manager who had power over their livelihood. Employers need to implement strong policies so that victims can report sexual harassment without reprisal."
If you feel you have been the victim of sex discrimination, retaliation or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment attorneys at Michel | King , either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.