Employer Failed to Address Racially Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK, N.Y. - On The Border Acquisitions, LLC, doing business as On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina (OTB), will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, OTB failed to take action when several employees at its Holtsville, New York location subjected an African-American cook to harassment based on his race, including repeatedly calling him racial slurs. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, including subjecting employees to a racially hostile work environment.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in September 2018 (On The Border Acquisitions, LLC, d/b/a On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-05122), after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case was litigated by EEOC trial attorney Renay Oliver and supervisory trial attorney Nora Curtin.
"The EEOC takes seriously its responsibility to enforce federal law and hold employers to account. We appreciate OTB's recognition of that responsibility and its willingness to resolve this case, avoiding a protracted litigation," said EEOC trial attorney Renay Oliver.
In addition to the $100,000 in monetary relief and a letter of apology to the victim, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit requires OTB to provide anti-discrimination and harassment training to employees located at its Holtsville and Hicksville, New York locations and the supervisors responsible for those locations. OTB will also redistribute to those employees its EEO policies with a letter from its chief people officer affirming the company's commitment to provide a workplace free from discrimination. The consent decree also requires OTB to report to EEOC future complaints of race discrimination and harassment by its New York employees. The EEOC will monitor OTB's compliance with these obligations for the next three years.
Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the New York District Office said, "Unfortunately, racial harassment is all too common in the restaurant industry. Whatever the environment, employers need to take seriously their obligations under federal law and put a stop to harassment as soon as they become aware of it."
The EEOC's New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.
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 our email updates.