Manager Groped and Propositioned Teenaged Hostess; Then Restaurant Reduced Her Hours After She Complained, Federal Agency Charges
ABINGDON, Va. - A Bluefield, Va., restaurant violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliating against her by reducing her hours, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed September 29, 2017.
According to the EEOC's suit, Alexus Dudeck was employed as a hostess at La Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill and Cantina in 2015. The EEOC charged that Dudeck, then 18 years old, was subjected to unwelcome sexual comments and touching by a significantly older male manager. According to the EEOC's complaint, the manager had previously engaged in the same or similar sexual conduct with at least one other female employee of the company. At the time the alleged sexual harassment occurred, La Fiesta did not have a sexual harassment policy or employee complaint procedures in effect.
The EEOC's complaint further charged that after Dudeck complained to La Fiesta's general manager about the harassment, the company reduced Dudeck's scheduled hours. The complaint alleges that the wife of the alleged harasser was responsible for scheduling Dudeck's hours after her complaint of sexual harassment was made.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Price Ventures, LLC d/b/a La Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill and Cantina, Civil Action No 1:17-cv-00041-JPJ-PMS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, back pay for Dudeck, as well as injunctive relief to prevent any future discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
"Sexual harassment is always unacceptable and unlawful in any workplace," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "When a teenager is a victim, the abuse is all the more unconscionable. Very young people are among the most vulnerable to this kind of misconduct, and the EEOC is committed to putting a stop to it."
The EEOC's Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/ ) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.