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PRESS RELEASE
3-1-11

Del Taco Owner Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Female Employee at Glendale Restaurant Subjected to Obscene Touching and Displays and Fired for Complaining, Federal Agency Charges

PHOENIX — Gala AZ Holdings, Inc., doing business as Del Taco, violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to sexual harassment and by firing her for her complaint, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, (EEOC v. Gala AZ Holdings, Inc., Civil Action No. CV11-0383-PHX-JAT), filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges that an assistant manager at the Del Taco location in Glendale sexually harassed Adriana Lopez by fondling himself in her presence, grabbing her buttocks, and attempting to grab her breasts. The EEOC alleges that after Lopez complained to her managers, she was suspended and then fired in retaliation for her complaint.

This alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which prohibit employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin, as well as retaliation. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Lopez as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further sex-discriminatory practices.

“Employers who subject people to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “It is particularly important for the EEOC to vigorously enforce the anti-retaliation provisions in the employment discrimination laws. We have seen an alarming increase in retaliation charges, and we are very concerned that employees know that they can report discrimination without repercussions.”

EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “"Employers must take complaints of discrimination seriously and address them appropriately. Retaliation against victims of harassment who have spoken out or reported such behavior is all too common and just as illegal as the harassment itself. The EEOC will not look the other way."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.