Federal Agency Says Owner Harassed Women at Restaurant Chain, Fired One Who Complained
CHICAGO – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal district court against the owners/operators of several Chicago-area Papa T’s restaurants and nightclubs. The suit is filed on behalf of a class of women subjected to sexually derogatory comments and names, physical touching, and physical threats by the owner. The suit also alleges that at least one of the women was terminated in retaliation for opposing and complaining about the sexually hostile work environment.
The EEOC’s lawsuit is based upon a charge of discrimination filed by a female employee of Papa T’s Pizza & Pub located at 7130 West 79th Street, Burbank, Ill. The EEOC pre-lawsuit administrative investigation, overseen by Chicago District Director John Rowe, concluded that as many as ten other women were also subjected to sexual harassment by the owner at other Papa T’s locations, including Papa T’s Night Club located at 4660 West 147th Street, Midlothian, Ill. The complaint alleges that Papa T’s violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting a class of female employees to sexual harassment and retaliation.
Rowe said that investigation revealed that numerous female employees at Papa T’s were subjected to abusive verbal sexual comments, sexually derogatory remarks, touching, and physical threats, all by the owner.
“It’s disappointing that some bar and restaurant owners and operators still act as if a license to operate a restaurant is also a license to prey upon the women they employ,” said EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson. “We’re here to tell them it’s not. After all, sexual harassment of low-wage workers who desperately need their jobs is not only unjust and cowardly; it’s a violation of federal law.”
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit, filed September 27, is captioned EEOC v J.D.J. Restaurant, Inc. d/b/a Papa T’s Pizza & Pub, J.W. Saphire, Inc. d/b/a Papa T’s Night Club and Papa T’s Fine Italian Cuisine, Inc. d.b.a Papa T’s Corp., N.D. Ill., No. 10 C 06189, and has been assigned to District Judge Darrah and Magistrate Judge Gilbert. The EEOC’s litigation of the case will be led by Trial Attorney June Calhoun and Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.
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 enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.