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PRESS RELEASE
12-20-12

Mendota Restaurants, Inc. to Pay $150,000 to Settle Class Sex Harassment Lawsuit

Female Employees at Mendota KFC/Taco Bell Were Sexually Harassed by Manager, Subjected to Retaliation, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO - Mendota Restaurants, Inc. d/b/a KFC/Taco Bell, located on Route 34 in Mendota, Ill., will pay $150,000 to settle a class sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Mendota Restaurants, Inc. subjected a class of female employees to sexual harassment and retaliated against those who complained about the harassment by discharging or constructively discharging them.  The suit also alleged that the harassment, which lasted for over a year, was committed by a store manager against many young women and included several sexual assaults.  At least five of the women complained to the Mendota Police Department.  The lawsuit was assigned to Judge Ronald Guzman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and Magistrate Judge Susan Cox entered the consent decree resolving the case, which is captioned EEOC v. Mendota Restaurants, Inc. d/b/a KFC/Taco Bell, 11 C 6845.

In addition to requiring that Mendota Restaurants, Inc. pay monetary relief to 12 victims, the three-year consent decree resolving the case enjoins Mendota Restaurants, Inc. from engaging in further sex-based discrimination and/or retaliation.  The consent decree also requires that the company hire an outside monitor to handle any future complaints of sexual harassment over the next three years and that it provide training to all employees, including supervisory employees, in its Mendota store; that it submit periodic reports to EEOC about any complaints of sex discrimination and/or retaliation; and that Mendota Restaurants, Inc. post a notice at various locations within its facility regarding the outcome of this lawsuit.

"This case should put owners on notice that when they learn of sexual harassment, they need to take action to stop it," said EEOC Trial Attorney June Wallace Calhoun.  "We are especially glad that we have been able to send a message to employers in the Mendota, Ill. area that EEOC is watching."

EEOC's Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson, added, "EEOC takes seriously sexual harassment of young women at restaurants, of which we see a lot. Some employers make the double mistake of retaliating against employees who are brave enough to complain.  Both sex harassment and retaliation, in the form of reducing employees' hours, assigning them to worse shifts, and termination, violate Title VII. We hope that other employers will become educated about their legal obligations as a result of this case."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.