Atmore Arby's Management Ignored Ongoing Sexual Harassment Despite Repeated Employee Complaints, Federal Agency Charges
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Beavers' Inc., doing business as several Arby's franchises in the Southeast, violated federal law when it subjected several teenaged female employees at an Atmore, Ala., Arby's to sexual harassment at its location, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on March 30, 2018.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, in May 2016, Arby's hired a team leader trainee with a known history of sexual harassment who repeatedly pressured young female employees to have sex with him, and regularly used sexually graphic language to describe sexual acts he sought to perform on female employees and customers. The EEOC also alleges that the harasser deliberately touched one female employee in an unwelcome and sexual manner, and attempted to follow female employees home.
The EEOC further contends that these employees and others complained about the harassment up the chain of command to supervisors and managers, but Arby's took no action for several months until the harasser physically injured one of the victims.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Beavers' Inc., d/b/a Arby's, Case No. 1:18-cv-00150) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama after its Birmingham District Office, Mobile Local Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the victims, including compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
"Federal anti-discrimination laws exist to protect workers from this kind of abuse," said EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. "The EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue remedies for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, particularly young, vulnerable workers. This kind of misconduct adversely affects not only the harassment victims themselves, but also the entire workforce, when timely and effective corrective action is not taken."
Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham District, said, "Employers have an obligation to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment, and that obligation is not met solely by having a written policy. Employers must take complaints of sexual harassment seriously and act promptly to stop harassment of their workers."
Beavers' is a Florida corporation which owns and operates 51 Arby's locations in the Florida panhandle, south Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.
The EEOC's Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.
The EEOC's Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.
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 email updates.