U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Restaurant's Assistant Manager and Cook Abused Female Employees, Federal Agency Charged
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Coley's #101 LLC, doing business as Dad's BBQ in Anniston, Ala., has agreed to pay $91,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Aretha Johnson and a class of women experienced ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination on the job from an assistant manager and a cook. The EEOC said that Johnson and the class were subjected to the frequent use of sexually explicit words, degrading sexual comments about their bodies, threats of forced sexual acts, and propositions for sex.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from subjecting employees to discrimination on the basis of sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama (EEOC v. Coley's #101, LLC. d/b/a Dad's BBQ, Case No. 1:11-cv-03465-VEH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief, the company entered into a consent decree and agreed to ensure that all of its employees are trained on sexual harassment and the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII, and managers are additionally to receive training on handling sexual harassment and how to respond to complaints. Dad's BBQ is enjoined from engaging in discrimination based on sex in the future and from retaliation. Under the terms of the decree, Dad's will be monitored by the EEOC for the term of the decree.
"Sexual harassment can have a demoralizing effect on everyone within range of it, and it often negatively impacts company productivity on the whole," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Birmingham District Office. "Both men and women in a workplace can find their work disrupted by sexual harassment even if they are not directly involved. So employers need to take proactive steps to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment in their workplaces."
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Ylda Kopka said, "All employers are responsible for following the law. Employers, no matter their size, are forewarned that they may not discriminate without consequence."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.