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PRESS RELEASE
7-1-10

EEOC Reaches Voluntary Settlement for Sexual Harassment with Koreatown Restaurant

Chilbo Myunok to Pay $170,000 to Victims and Participate in Joint Outreach Training With EEOC to Korean Community Small Business Owners

LOS ANGELES – Chilbo Myunok USA LLC, a Korea-based food company which owns a Los Angeles restaurant and a chain of fast-food stores in Korea, will pay $170,000 and furnish other relief to resolve sexual harassment complaints brought to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC’s investigation had found that a class of waitresses was sexually harassed at the Chilbo Myunok restaurant in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles, and that four of them were forced to quit to escape the harassment. The offending manager has since been fired.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, since the restaurant opened in April 2005 until August 2005, each of the victims faced continuous verbal and physical harassment from the restaurant’s manager. The manager repeatedly subjected the women to sexual touching with a sexual device and to unwanted hugging and kissing, the EEOC said. In addition, the agency charged, the women were forced by the restaurant manager to attend karaoke bars after work.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects all employees who have been subjected to discrimination while employed by companies operating in the United States, regardless of where the business is based.

Besides the monetary award, the conciliation agreement settling the matter provides for anti-discrimination training for all employees and posting notices about the agreement in English, Korean and Spanish at the restaurant. Also, Chilbo Myunok's owner has committed to participating in joint outreach efforts with the EEOC to small businesses in the Korean community, including a free EEOC training session to be conducted in Korean on July 8, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles (KAFLA) in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles.

EEOC Los Angeles District Director Olophius E. Perry commended Chilbo Myunok and its owner, Tu Ik Chang, for acting decisively and working with the EEOC to reach an agreeable resolution in this matter.

"By working with EEOC this way, Chilbo Myunok has clearly shown its commitment to making needed changes to policies and practices to ensure equal employment opportunities for all of Chilbo Myunok's employees,” said Perry. “I am very pleased by this agreement, which avoids litigation and sets the proper tone for a safe and harassment free workplace.”

EEOC Enforcement Manager Patricia Kane, who oversaw the investigation and negotiation of this case, added, “The courage of these workers to step forward and protest discrimination is commendable. It was an important victory, breaking through the cultural barriers that often keep immigrant workers from asserting their rights. As part of our small business initiative, the EEOC’s Los Angeles District has also been reaching out to minority small business owners to better equip them in dealing with EEO problems that may arise in the workplace.”

Chilbo Myunok restaurant owner Tu Ik Chang said, “As soon as I became aware of the problem, I felt compelled to deal with the allegations directly by firing the manager who was creating the problems for the workers. Going forward, I will ensure that all of my supervisors and managers know that they are required to maintain a work place free of sexual harassment. This experience has motivated me to share with other Korean business owners that we must be knowledgeable of the laws enforced by the EEOC and maintain a working environment free of discrimination. I hope that by partnering with the EEOC and telling my story, other small business owners will take a proactive approach to educate their managers and employees. I am happy with the resolution and believe this agreement is in the best interests of all parties involved.”

The Los Angeles District Office has been reaching out to small business owners within its jurisdictional boundaries which include Southern California, Nevada, Hawaii and the U.S. Possessions of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Wake Island. In an effort to reach out to immigrant communities, the office has hired investigators proficient in Korean, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Portuguese and American Sign Language. The outreach efforts will continue to include assistance to small business owners within the immigrant communities regarding compliance with the laws enforced by the Commission.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.