SAN FRANCISCO — Two California restaurants face a lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after allegedly dismissing complaints from male and female workers about being sexually harassed by a kitchen manager.
The EEOC alleges Porta Bella and Mediterranean Restaurants, owned by JCFB, Inc., ignored complaints from employees about the kitchen manager who groped a male co-worker's private parts, slid his hand up a female workers shirt to grab her breast, stuck his tongue in her ear and offered to pay her for sex. When the employees complained about the repeated harassment, they were told it was just "play," according to the EEOC.
"Employers must protect their workers from harassment and sexual abuse, no matter whether filed by a male or female employee," EEOC San Jose local office director Rosa Salazar said in a statement. "These workers notified their management, but their employer failed to take prompt, effective action as federal law requires it to do."
"This bullet point from the EEOC's select task force on workplace harassment checklists for employers bears repeating: 'take reports seriously,'" added EEOC San Francisco regional attorney Roberta Steele. "Advising employees to 'just ignore' bad behavior and dismissing harassment as mere horseplay are red flags an organization needs to re-examine its workplace culture and anti-harassment policy."
In its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the EEOC alleges the restaurants' actions violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.