Court Also Imposes $1,000-Per-Day Fine to Compel Obedience to Order
MILWAUKEE – A federal judge has issued a contempt-of-court order against a restaurant management company for refusing to post a court-ordered notice that was required by the court in a sexual harassment case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman on May 31 issued a decision and order that determined Salauddin Janmohammed, owner of 17 International House of Pancakes (IHOP) restaurants, and management company Flipmeastack, Inc. were in contempt of court for refusing to follow a prior order that directed the company to post a notice for all its employees telling them the results of the EEOC’s sexual harassment lawsuit.
The EEOC had charged in its original lawsuit, EEOC v. Management Hospitality of Racine, Inc., Flipmeastack, Inc., and Salauddin Janmohammed, Case No. 2:06-cv-00715-LA (E.D. Wis.), that the company subjected two teenaged servers to sexual harassment by their manager at an IHOP formerly operated by Flipmeastack in Racine, Wis., in 2005. The case resulted in a $105,000 jury verdict against the defendants in November 2009.
The original order to post the results of the lawsuit was entered almost a year ago, on Aug. 31, 2010. The new contempt findings are the result of a hearing held on May 20 and May 26, 2011. Flipmeastack was found in contempt for continuing to provide management services to 17 IHOP restaurants owned by Janmohammed without posting the notices as required. Janmohammed had refused to allow the posting, and was found in contempt for aiding and abetting Flipmeastack’s contempt.
The contempt order requires the postings to be performed at each of the 17 restaurants by June 2, 2011. It allows EEOC access to the restaurants to monitor whether the postings are there, and provides that Flipmeastack and Janhomammed will incur a fine of $1,000 per day if the posting is not up at all 17 restaurants.
“This should signal employers looking for reasons not to comply with orders enforcing employment discrimination laws that they are really looking for trouble,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney in the EEOC Chicago District Office, which oversees Milwaukee. “Sooner or later those who demonstrate such contempt are going to be called to account by the EEOC and brought up short by the courts. That is what happened here, and we will stay on the case until there is full compliance.”
Jean Kamp, the EEOC associate regional attorney for Milwaukee, added, “Posting notices in sexual harassment cases is important because the notices increase the odds that any victims of illegal activity will know their rights and that they can always complain to the EEOC. We will not stand by while employers attempt to thwart that. Rest assured, this employer will learn that we will continue to monitor the postings and protect the process as necessary.”
In addition to Hendrickson and Kamp, the case was litigated by EEOC trial attorneys Brian Tyndall and Nicholas Pladson.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information is available on the EEOC’s web site at www.eeoc.gov .