Federal Agency Says Bar and Grill Allowed Harassment of Female Employees
CHICAGO -The South Loop Club, a Chicago bar and grill located at 701 S. State Street, fostered a culture that enabled the sexual harassment of a number of female employees by owners and managers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed this week. When female employees complained to management about the ongoing and pervasive harassment, according to EEOC, they were fired or forced to quit.
The EEOC's district director in Chicago, John Rowe, who directed the EEOC's administrative investigation, said the company's owners and managers made frequent comments of a sexual nature to subordinate female employees.
"Long before women came to the EEOC to file charges, our investigation revealed, they complained repeatedly to the company's owners and managers, but their complaints were ignored, or even mocked," Rowe said. "To add insult to injury, several female employees who complained about the harassment were discharged after complaining, or felt they had no choice but to quit when the harassment continued unabated."
The EEOC's lawsuit was brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination (including sexual harassment) as well as retaliation, in employment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. South Loop Club, Civil Action No. 12 cv -7677, was filed Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and has been assigned to District Judge Charles P. Kocoras and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert. EEOC Trial Attorney Brad Fiorito and Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour will litigate the case on behalf of the government.
The EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson, said, "In today's economy, even people with jobs may feel vulnerable and try their best to put up with intolerable working conditions rather than attempt to find a new job. But no employee can be forced to endure sexual misconduct at work. That's why these days we make a strong effort to put a stop to sexual harassment -- whether in the office, on the factory floor, or, too often, in bars and restaurants. A problematic economy did not create an open season on women or somehow put the law against sexual harassment on hold."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.