U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Store Manager Subjected Female Employee to Sexual Touching and Propositions, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Gastonia, N.C., restaurant violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment that caused her to quit her job, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, from around October until December 2007, Savoy Annette Davis, a waitress at Pancake House of Gastonia, was sexually harassed by the restaurant’s male manager, who was also Davis’s supervisor. The suit alleges the harassment included, among other things, the manager patting Davis on her buttocks, calling her at home and propositioning her for sex and attempting to hug and kiss her at the restaurant. The EEOC further alleges that the manager exposed his private parts to Davis in the restaurant. Although Davis complained to the manager about his unwelcome and offensive conduct and asked him to stop, the harassment continued until Davis felt forced to resign, the EEOC says.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Pancake House of Gastonia, Inc.; Civil Action No. 3:11-cv-00362) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay for Davis along with compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.
“Employees have an absolute legal right to a workplace free from sexual harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Employers have a responsibility to provide a procedure for employees to report allegations of sexual harassment, and employers must act reasonably to investigate and prevent further harassment once a report is received. It is especially important to have a complaint procedure in place for employees to complain about harassment by managers and supervisors.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.