Federal Agency Charged Restaurant Fired Employee for Complaining About Customer Harassment
TAMPA, Fla. - East Coast Waffles, Inc., an Atlanta-based company which owns and operates more than 100 Waffle House restaurants in Florida and Virginia, has agreed to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC charged in its suit (Case No. 8:13-cv-00525-EAK-MAP in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida) that a Tampa Waffle House fired an employee in retaliation for opposing race-based harassment by several customers.
Retaliation for complaining about racial harassment-even from third parties such as customers-violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first investigating the case in Tampa, and then attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
According to the terms of the parties' agreement, East Coast Waffles will pay $25,000 to the terminated employee, provide training to managers, human resources personnel and investigators, and will report to EEOC for two years.
"We commend East Coast Waffles for working cooperatively with EEOC to quickly resolve this matter, without need for costly litigation," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC's Miami District Office.
Malcolm Medley, director of the EEOC's Miami District Office, added, "The fear of retaliation can prevent employees from raising legitimate concerns with their employer, even when a company has a hotline or some other mechanism for voicing discrimination or harassment complaints. All employers should carefully examine their own policies and practices to ensure compliance with civil rights law."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov .