Head Chef Sexually Harassed Two Female Employees, Federal Agency Charges
BUFFALO - Green Lantern Inn, Inc., doing business as Mr. Dominic's on Main in Rochester, violated federal law by subjecting two female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Paul Dowlatt, the head chef and kitchen manager at Mr. Dominic's on Main, sexually harassed the charging party, Rachel Clifford, and another female employee throughout their employment. Dowlatt's conduct included inappropriate physical contact and explicit requests for sex. Further, Dowlatt made repeated sexually inappropriate, hostile, and offensive comments to Clifford and the other employee.
EEOC alleges that female employees complained about Dowlatt's abusive conduct to Mr. Dominic's owner, John Tachin, and general manager, Anthony Barbone, but the company failed to take appropriate measures to end the harassment. Ms. Clifford quit because Mr. Dominic's took no action to stop the harassment, and the other employee was fired shortly after she complained to management about Dowlatt, the EEOC said.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.
The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Green Lantern Inn, Inc., Civil Action No. 6:19-cv-06704) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Rochester Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency's conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for the affected employees, as well as injunctive relief designed to remedy and prevent future sexual harassment in the workplace.
"Employers who are on notice of sexual harassment in the workplace have a clear duty to quickly put an end to the harassment," said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office. "The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for failing to protect their employees from unlawful harassment."
Kevin Berry, director of the New York District Office, said, "Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, or any industry, is unacceptable. Ending sexual harassment in the workplace has always been, and continues to be, a priority for the EEOC."
The EEOC's New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. The agency's Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.
The case will be litigated by EEOC Trial Attorney Elizabeth Fox-Solomon and EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Kimberly Cruz.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.