ST. LOUIS — The federal government has settled its sexual harassment lawsuit against two southern Illinois International House of Pancakes (IHOP) franchises for $975,000 according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, alleges more than 11 female employees and one male employee at an IHOP in Glen Carbon, Illinois, were subjected to offensive sexual comments, groping, physical threats and on one occasion, forced oral sex. Several of the alleged victims were teenagers at the time of the incidents, according to the EEOC.
The other IHOP was in Alton, Illinois, and the allegations involved five employees.
"Employers are responsible for preventing workplace harassment - and their failure to do so hurts both their employees and their bottom line," EEOC St. Louis District regional attorney Andrea Baran said in a statement. "Business owners and CEOs must be proactive and involved in making sure all managers and employees understand that harassment will not be tolerated, harassers will be punished, and those who report harassment will be protected from retaliation. Prevention starts at the top."
Among the consent decree requirements are compensatory damages to 16 harassment victims, IHOP's implementation of stricter policies for prohibiting, investigating and addressing harassment complaints as well as EEOC monitoring of the restaurants.