Verdict for Federal Agency on Behalf of Two Teenaged Servers Who Were Verbally and Physically Harassed
MILWAUKEE – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that a federal jury in Milwaukee has returned a $105,000 verdict following a four-day sexual harassment trial in a sexual harassment case brought by the agency.
The jury’s verdict awarded an aggregate of $5,000 to two teenagers who worked at a Racine, Wis., IHOP restaurant who, the EEOC alleged, were sexually harassed by their assistant manager, who subjected them to sexual propositions, groping and hair-pulling. In addition, the jury found that the IHOP had acted recklessly with respect to one of the servers and awarded her $100,000 in punitive damages. The EEOC said that punitive damages may be awarded by juries to punish such conduct and to discourage it in the future.
The IHOP at which the servers worked, and where they were harassed, was owned by Salauddin Janmohammed, and managed by a management consulting firm, Flipmeastack, owned by his wife. In defending the case, the IHOP contended that the restaurant had a strong policy against sexual harassment and that the victim’s complaints about the harassment were not sufficient -- defenses which the jury apparently rejected.
The case, captioned EEOC v. Management Hospitality of Racine, Inc.; Flipmeastack, Inc. and Salauddin Janmohammed, E.D. Wis. No. 06-C-0715, was filed by the EEOC in 2006, and presided over by Judge Lynn Adelman. Management Hospitality of Racine was one of approximately 20 IHOP restaurants located in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa owned by Janmohammed, and managed by Flipmeastack. The jury returned its verdict on Thursday, November 19.
The EEOC was represented at trial by Trial Attorneys Brain Tyndall of Milwaukee and Nicholas Pladson of Minneapolis, under the supervision of EEOC Chicago District Associate Regional Attorney Jean Kamp.
Regional Attorney John C. Hendrickson of the EEOC’s Chicago District said, “The trial and the verdict in this case should send a couple of very clear signals. The first is that, although the EEOC resolves many cases by consent decree, we are always ready to take cases to trial. The second is that when we do take sexual harassment cases to trial, juries do not shy away from requiring employers to pay large damage awards.”
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Brian Tyndall added, “We’re proud to have worked with the two women in this case, who were teenagers at the time of the harassment. It’s never easy to stand up in the face or harassment, especially if you’re young and you really need your job. Nor is it easy to go through the rigors of litigation for a period of years. But these women did that, and because of them and this case, women will have more equal opportunity while working at IHOP and elsewhere in the restaurant industry in Wisconsin.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.
The EEOC Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.