U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Male Employee at Huntersville Restaurant Subjected Male Co-Workers to Sexual Touching and Obscene Displays, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE , N.C. – Huntersville Seafood, Inc. doing business as Captain’s Galley restaurant, violated federal law by subjecting male employees to a sexually hostile work environment and by firing one of its male employees for complaining, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. Captain’s Galley is located off Interstate 77 in Huntersville, N.C.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in 2007 and 2008 Peter Economos was subjected to sexual harassment by a male co-worker. The EEOC contends that on a daily or almost daily basis, the co-worker would touch, poke, or slap Economos on the buttocks, and occasionally would grab his private parts. The co-worker’s conduct also included explicit, obscene sexual gestures. The EEOC said that Economos complained about the sexual harassment to the company’s owner on at least two occasions but that no action was taken to stop the misconduct. Rather, the agency charged, Captain’s Galley discharged Economos in retaliation for his complaints.
Additionally, the complaint alleges that other male employees were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment at Captain’s Galley beginning in at least 2007. Specifically, other male workers were touched, poked, or slapped on their buttocks by the same male co-worker.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division ( Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Huntersville Seafood Inc., d/b/a Captain’s Galley, Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-00624) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The agency seeks back pay for Economos, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for Economos and the other harassment victims.
“Sexual harassment is illegal and unacceptable, regardless of the gender of the perpetrators or the victims,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “Furthermore, an employer is only making a bad situation worse by punishing a victim for complaining instead of addressing and solving the problem. The EEOC will step in when it must to defend the rights of sexual harassment victims.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.