U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Male Employees Were Groped and Degraded by Management and Co-Workers at Upscale Eatery, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK – Sparks Steak House, an upscale restaurant in New York City, violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment for male employees, including physical and verbal sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, male managers and workers at Sparks subjected male employees to ongoing abuse. The misconduct allegedly included groping their buttocks, attempting to touch their genitals and rubbing their bodies into the employees while at work. The managers and co-workers also made numerous crude, obscene comments.
The lawsuit against the eatery also charged that an employee who complained about the harassment was retaliated against by getting less desirable assignments and was ultimately terminated.
All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. The EEOC filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (civil number 09 CV 10601) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
“The managers’ and employees’ offensive conduct at Sparks has absolutely no place in any working environment,” said Charles F. Coleman, Jr., a trial attorney in the EEOC's New York District Office. “When employees spoke out against the abuse, their pleas were either ignored or resulted in punishment. With this suit, the EEOC is sending the message that this type of behavior is illegal and will not be tolerated.”
EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said, “The EEOC is determined to stop sexual harassment whether faced by men or women. The objectives of this lawsuit will be to obtain fair compensation for those employees who suffered harassment and to implement policies that will help prevent discrimination.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.