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Restaurant chain pays $25,000 in sexual harassment settlement

Readers in Colorado will be interested to hear of a recent sexual harassment lawsuit that charged an Italian restaurant chain with subjecting female employees to repeated instances of sexual harassment. The lawsuit, which was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said that Rafael's Italian Restaurant allowed male kitchen workers to make crude comments toward and request sexual touching from female employees, some of whom were teenagers. The EEOC said that restaurant management received numerous complaints from several of the women, but the complaints were ignored.

As compensation for its failure to correct the hostile work environment, the restaurant chain has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit. In addition to the fine, the restaurant must provide the appropriate training to employees, keep records of any sexual harassment complaints, and submit annual reports to the EEOC.

An attorney for the EEOC said that employers have a moral and legal obligation to quickly address harassment complaints, especially when they involve teenagers who are likely in the work force for the first time. "Allowing serial harassers to victimize female employees without facing consequences is a clear violation of federal law," she said.

By law, employers must take swift action to correct known sexual harassment incidents involving workers, as well as customers. Employers who fail to make such corrections are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When that violation occurs, action should be taken to hold the violators accountable and to prevent the needless perpetuation of a hostile work environment.

Source: News Channel 9, "Tenn. Restaurant Fined $25,000 for Sexual Harassment," Jan. 18, 2012

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