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Dairy Queen Restaurant Sued By EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Manager Did Not Address Harassment, Then Fired Employee for Complaining, Federal Agency Says

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – YS&J  Enterprises, Inc., which does business in Winston-Salem’s Hanes Mall as  Dairy Queen, violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to sexual  harassment and then firing her for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed  today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, from approximately late  March 2009 through Aug. 23, 2009 when her employment ended, Chastity Hill-Cox  was subjected to harassment based on her sex by a male cashier. The EEOC contends that the harassment  consisted of the cashier talking explicitly about his sexual encounters, and  making sexual gestures in which he simulated sex acts. The lawsuit further alleges that the male  cashier called Hill-Cox offensive gender-based epithets such as “b---h,” “c--t,”  and “p---y” on a frequent basis. Hill-Cox  complained about the harassment to the restaurant manager, but the harassment  did not stop. According to the lawsuit,  Hill-Cox, who was at work, and her mother called the Winston-Salem police to report the  harassment. While the police were present  at the restaurant responding to her complaint, the manager fired Hill-Cox,  stating that Hill-Cox was “causing too many problems” for the company.

Sexual  harassment and retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment violate  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of  North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission v. Y S& J Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a  Dairy Queen, (Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-01103), after first  attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages  for Hill-Cox.

“An employee should not have to  tolerate any type of harassment based on sex, including profane gender-based  name calling or another employee’s explicit and offensive stories about sex,”  said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “That behavior has no place at work. Employers are liable when they fail to  address harassment once they have knowledge that such behavior is  occurring.”

EEOC  Supervisory Trial Attorney Tina Burnside added, “The EEOC will vigorously  enforce Title VII, which protects an employee’s right to complain about sexual  harassment and not be fired in retaliation.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at