Restaurant Owner Subjected Female Employees to Sexual Harassment and Fired Bartender When She Complained, Federal Agency Charges
WEIRTON, W.V. – Route 22 Sports Bar, Inc. and Crazy Mexican Restaurant & Grill, LLC, two restaurants in Weirton, W.V., subjected female workers to sexual harassment and fired a bartender for reporting it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a male owner of the two restaurants subjected a female bartender to sexual harassment, including propositioning her for sex, making sexually offensive statements, spreading false rumors that he paid her for sex, and touching her inappropriately on several occasions. When the female bartender reported the harassment to the male owner’s spouse, who was a co-owner of the restaurants, the male owner denied it and fired the bartender in retaliation for her complaint, the EEOC charges. EEOC’s lawsuit further charges that male co-workers subjected the bartender to sexual harassment as well. The male owner also subjected a class of additional female workers to unwanted and offensive sexual harassment, the federal agency charged.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment and discrimination because of sex. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees because they oppose harassment or discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (U.S. EEOC v. Route 22 Sports Bar, Inc. et al., Civil Action No. 5:21-cv-00007-JPB) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia after first attempting to reach voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“Unfortunately, sexual harassment continues to be prevalent in the restaurant industry,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “The EEOC is committed to protecting service-industry workers from abuse and exploitation because of their sex.”
EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “All employees have the right to earn a living without being subjected to sexual harassment and to complain about unwelcome harassment without being fired in retaliation.”
The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC’s Pittsburgh Area Office, one of four component offices of the agency’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.