Two Female Employees Were Subjected to Egregious Sexual Harassment and Discriminatory Discharge, Federal Agency Charged
MARTINSBURG, W.V. - Las Trancas of Martinsburg, Inc., a restaurant in Martinsburg, W.V., has agreed to pay $66,598 and provide other relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that Las Trancas violated federal law by subjecting female employees to egregious sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Las Trancas subjected former employees Raquel Ramirez Rivera and Virginia Sanchez Garcia to a hostile work environment because of their sex, including regular and repeated sexual touching and grabbing, lewd sexual comments, and other offensive and threatening behaviors by several male supervisors and coworkers. The EEOC charged that Sanchez Garcia was fired as a result of the harassment when she refused to submit to her supervisor's advances. The EEOC's suit further charged that the restaurant subjected Ramirez Rivera to unfavorable terms and conditions of her employment and a constructive discharge because of her sex and in retaliation for opposing Las Trancas's unlawful employment practices.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids sexual harassment in employment and retaliation for opposing such misconduct. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia (Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-00116) after first attempting to reach a pre-suit settlement through the EEOC's conciliation process.
The consent decree resolving the EEOC's lawsuit has been approved and entered by court. In addition to paying $66,598 in monetary relief to the victims, Las Trancas has agreed to post notices of employee rights required under Title VII, develop and implement an anti-discrimination policy, and provide training on discrimination and harassment to all employees at the Martinsburg location and two other restaurant locations. The company will also appoint an equal employment opportunity officer and hire a third-party consultant to assist with investigating and responding to future complaints of discrimination and harassment. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the two-year consent decree.
"No worker should ever have to endure sexually degrading and humiliating work conditions in order to earn a living," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the agency's Philadelphia District Office. "Employers should encourage victims of sexual harassment to come forward, not illegally punish their employees for reporting such abuse. Encouraging employees to report sexual harassment in the workplace is both smart business practice and the right thing to do."
EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie Williamson added, "We commend Las Trancas for working collaboratively with the EEOC's legal unit to put systems in place to prevent and correct future incidents of sexual harassment. This sort of abuse is far too common in the restaurant industry. The EEOC is committed to protecting restaurant workers from sexual harassment and to vindicating their rights under federal law to resist such mistreatment and report it."
The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC's Pittsburgh Area Office, one of four component offices of the agency's Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances equal 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.