FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Par Ventures, Inc., a North Carolina corporation which operates a chain of seven McDonald’s fast food restaurants, will pay $12,500 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Par Ventures violated federal law when it subjected a teenaged female employee to a sexually hostile work environment.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a male “people manager” at Par Ventures’ Parmlee Drive McDonald’s in Fayetteville sexually harassed the employee, who was only 16 years old at the time. The EEOC charged that she was subjected to sexual comments, sexual requests, and unwanted touching from her male supervisor. The complaint alleged that the supervisor offered her money for nude pictures of herself, asked her explicit sexual questions, and ultimately sexually assaulted her.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (EEOC v. Par Ventures, Inc. d/b/a McDonald’s, Civil Action No 5:19-cv-00341-FL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to the $12,500 in monetary relief for the discrimination victim, the five-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires Par Ventures to revise its policy on sexual harassment and to post a notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws. Par Ventures must also conduct annual training for all employees on the requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against sexual harassment in the workplace, and on the company’s sexual harassment policy. The decree also requires Par Ventures to report all employee complaints about sex-based conduct or comments to the EEOC.
“Employers must especially heighten their awareness of the harassment of teenage workers – one of the most vulnerable segments of the labor force – and actively take steps to prevent it,” said Kara Gibbon Haden, acting regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.
The EEOC’s Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/ ) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.