Restaurant Owner Harassed Female Employees, Federal Agency Said
BALTIMORE - A Baltimore restaurant, R.V. Associates Limited, doing business as Windsor Inn, will pay $200,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
EEOC charged that the restaurant owner sexually assaulted a female employee, identified by the pseudonym "Jane Doe" in the lawsuit. Others also harassed Doe, but the restaurant failed to stop the harassment, EEOC said. Doe was forced to quit due to the intolerable abuse.
The restaurant owner also engaged in unwelcome sexual touching of other female employees and made sexually offensive comments, including requests for sexual favors, to female employees, according to the suit. The restaurant suspended and later refused to increase the work hours of Keysha Costley in retaliation for her rejection of his sexual advances and filing a charge of discrimination, EEOC said.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. R.V. Associates Limited, d/b/a Windsor Inn, Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-00197-RDB) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The three-year consent decree requires Windsor Inn to pay $200,000 in monetary relief to Doe, Costley and a class of female employees who were subjected to harassment during the period Jan. 1, 2013 through the date of the decree. EEOC will identify appropriate class members and determine the amount of relief payable to them. The decree enjoins Windsor Inn from engaging in sex discrimination, sexual harassment or retaliation in the future. Windsor Inn will retain an independent monitor who will investigate any complaints of harassment and retaliation and make recommendations on resolving such complaints. Windsor Inn will implement and distribute to employees policies prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation. In addition, the restaurant will post a notice about the settlement and report to EEOC on its compliance with the decree
"Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a serious problem in the workplace, including the restaurant industry," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. "EEOC is committed to ensuring that no employee is subjected to sexual advances or harassment in order to earn a living."
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "We are pleased that we were able to resolve this matter amicably. The monetary relief will compensate the victims for the egregious sexual harassment they endured, and the equitable relief, in particular, the hiring of an independent monitor who will receive and handle any harassment or retaliation complaints, will protect the rights of all of the restaurant's employees."
EEOC Commissioners Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic recently issued a Report of the Co-Chairs of the Select Task Force on Harassment in the Workplace, which provides detailed recommendations for harassment prevention, including: a chart of risk factors that may permit harassment to occur; effective policies and procedures to reduce and eliminate harassment; recommendations for future research and funding; and targeted outreach. It also offers a toolkit of compliance assistance measures for employers and other stakeholders. The Report of the Co-Chairs of the Select Task Force on Harassment in the Workplace, witness statements and an executive summary of the report can be found on the agency's website at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/6-20-16/index.cfm.
EEOC's Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.