The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of a discrimination lawsuit against GLC Restaurants, Inc. (GLC) for $550,000 and substantial remedial relief on behalf of a class of teenage workers who were sexually harassed by a middle-aged male supervisor, including unwanted touching and lewd comments.
Flagstaff based GLC is a franchisee doing business as McDonald’s Restaurants in California and Arizona.
The EEOC maintained in the suit that the male supervisor in question was a repeat offender who subjected eight young women, who were part-time crew members, to a sexually hostile workplace at the McDonald’s run by GLC in Cordes Junction, Ariz. Previously, the same male manager allegedly harassed teen female employees at a GLC-owned McDonald’s Restaurant in Camp Verde, Ariz. The EEOC said that GLC knew of this manager’s earlier conduct but failed to take appropriate action to prevent him from repeating the unlawful behavior at another of its restaurants. The EEOC also alleged that the working conditions for one teenager in Cordes Junction were so intolerable that she was forced to resign.
In addition to paying $550,000 to the eight young women, the EEOC settlement by consent decree requires GLC to provide training and other relief aimed at educating its employees about sexual harassment and their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Under additional terms of the settlement, Prescott attorney Milton W. Hathaway, Jr, the private lawyer for four of the young women, will apply to the court for an award of attorney fees up to $400,000.00.
The EEOC filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after investigating multiple charges of discrimination and exhausting its efforts to reach a voluntary settlement (EEOC v. GLC Restaurants, Inc., d/b/a McDonald’s Restaurant, Civil Action No. CIV- 05-0618-PCT-DGC).
If you are an employer with a problem employee, think twice about reassigning him or her within your company. Effective, well documented lawful termination might be a less costly alternative. Further, employee problems seldom get better with time. The phrase “nip it in the bud” is right on target here.
Lastly, if the EEOC comes knocking, do absolutely everything possible to reach a voluntary settlement instead of waiting for a lawsuit to be filed. Our federal government is a powerful adversary with deep pockets. Follow these simple suggestions and you just might keep them out of yours!