San Juan Restaurant Subjected Female Employee to Sexual Harassment, Retaliated Against Her and Forced Her to Quit, Federal Agency Charged
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – A federal court has ordered a San Juan restaurant to pay $130,691 in a sexual harassment and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Limeños Corporation, doing business as Ceviche House, a restaurant in the Isla Verde area of San Juan, with violating federal law when an owner and general manager subjected a female server to sexual harassment, retaliated against her when she complained, and made her work conditions so intolerable she was forced to resign.
The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Ceviche House’s part-owner Marcelo López Mandujano created a sexually charged workplace by making humiliating comments about female servers’ bodies, referring to female employees as whores, and frequently discussing his own sexual experiences with female servers. When the female employee complained, Mandujano retaliated against her by intensifying the harassment and threatening her job and her safety. As a result of this conduct, the female server was forced to resign.
Sexual harassment, retaliation for complaining about it, and forcing an employee to resign on account of a hostile work environment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by the statute.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico (EEOC vs. Limeños Corporation d/b/a Ceviche House, Case No. 20-1143) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
On the EEOC’s motion for default judgment, the court’s judgment, besides the monetary relief, requires Ceviche House to provide training for five years to its owners, officers, managers, and administrative assistants and implement a new employee policy against sexual harassment and retaliation. Ceviche House will also be required to provide annual written reports to the EEOC certifying compliance with the court’s judgment and report on any sex-based discrimination occurring in the workplace over the next five years.
“The court’s judgment against Ceviche House is consistent with the EEOC’s mission to prosecute employers who create a sexually hostile work environment and actively works to prevent future harm to employees,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, which includes Puerto Rico within its jurisdiction. “The EEOC will continue to fight to prevent sexual harassment, especially those working in the hospitality industry, where so many workers are vulnerable to this kind of abuse.”
William Sanchez, director of the EEOC's San Juan Local Office, said, “The court’s judgment against Ceviche House provides justice for this aggrieved employee, and, we trust, will serve as a lesson to other employers about the importance of maintaining a workplace free of sexual harassment.”
The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa, and San Juan offices and has jurisdiction over most of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The EEOC’s Miami District employs multiple bilingual investigators who speak English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French and Portuguese.
The EEOC advances opportunities in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.