U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Upstate N.Y. Restaurant Subjected Female Employees to Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK – An upstate New York restaurant violated federal law by widespread and continuing sexual harassment of its female employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on August 31.
The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No 8:11-cv-01043), filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, charged that the owners of Angelo’s Pizza & Grill in Rouses Point, on Lake Champlain, subjected female employees to an ongoing pattern of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment from at least 2005 through the present.
According to the female employees, all three owners regularly made offensive comments about sex acts and private parts. They also made sexually suggestive comments such as threatening that “bad girls” would be sent to the office for “a spanking.” The owners also used objects – such as a cucumber or a large orange traffic cone – to press up against the women and simulate sex acts.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the company as well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company and its owners from engaging in any further employment practice that discriminates on the basis of sex. The discrimination charge was investigated by the EEOC’s Buffalo Local Office.
“The EEOC remains committed to aggressively pursuing remedies for victims of sexual harassment in any work setting,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Elizabeth Grossman. “No one, man or woman, should have to endure such abuse in a workplace, particularly from the business owners. The women who have come forward in this case have shown great courage.”
EEOC Trial Attorney Judith Biltekoff added, “All employees have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment and abuse. Employers, large or small, who violate their workers’ rights need to recognize that the federal government will enforce our national policy against sexual harassment in the workplace.”
The EEOC obtained a favorable jury verdict of $1,260,080 in January of this year after the trial of another sexual harassment case with similar allegations, against Paul’s Big M grocery store in Oswego, N.Y.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.