Supervisors Repeatedly Ignored Workers’ Reports of Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
EVERETT, Wash. —Red Robin International, Inc., a casual dining chain with restaurants throughout the United States and Canada, violated federal law when it allowed a male line cook to sexually harass female employees despite repeated notice of such unlawful behavior, and then retaliated against them for complaining, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in federal court today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a line cook at Red Robin’s Everett, Washington location repeatedly subjected female employees to sexual harassment that included offensive sexual comments, unwanted remarks about their bodies, leering, and touching them without their consent. When the female employees objected to his conduct, he retaliated against them by calling them sexist slurs and refusing to give them their food orders, which interfered with their ability to do their jobs. Despite multiple reports of such conduct from several employees, the restaurant’s supervisors and managers failed to take prompt or effective actions to stop the harassment, causing one female worker to quit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace and requires employers to investigate complaints of sexual harassment and take steps to prevent such harassment. An employer may also violate Title VII if it refuses to stop pervasive sexual harassment that makes a workplace so intolerable an employee has no choice but to quit, referred to as a constructive discharge.
The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Red Robin International, Inc., Case No. 2:22-cv-01378, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks lost wages, monetary damages including compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages on behalf of the class of female employees, and injunctive relief including training on how to combat sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
“The law makes clear that every worker has a right to a workplace free from sexual harassment,” said EEOC Seattle Field Office Director Elizabeth Cannon. “For that reason, once an employee makes a complaint of sexual harassment, employers are required to investigate and take effective measures to stop and prevent future harassment.”
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che said, “When one female employee complained about the sexual harassment, Red Robin’s General Manager told her that the harasser just got out of jail and that is just the type of person he is. Not only is this an offensive assertion regarding ex-offenders, but failing to take action violates the law. No one gets a free pass to sexually harass.”
The EEOC asks anyone who has information about sexual harassment at Red Robin or believes they were a victim of sexual harassment to contact the EEOC’s litigation team at (206) 580-1287 or through email: REDROBIN44@eeoc.gov.
Red Robin is a publicly traded casual dining chain based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, employing more than 21,000 employees in over 400 locations across the United States.
The EEOC’s Seattle Field Office has jurisdiction over Western Washington. More information about sexual harassment can be found at https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.