In September 2018, the Phoenix restaurant service Francisco Fine Foods LLC agreed to pay a $220,000 settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), write an apology letter, and create a more robust equal opportunity system within their restaurants. The EEOC stated that female employees were subjected to sexual harassment, including unwanted touching, requests for sex and more. Those who refused to comply with sexual demands suffered retaliation, according to EEOC. The suit also claimed that an employee was harassed based on her age, being called a “worthless old lady” and co-workers taking bets on her age. The suit claimed that these actions had been taking place since February of 2011.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination and retaliation, as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against employees over the age of 40. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Francisco’s Fine Foods, LLC d/b/a Mariscos Altata, Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-00945- JJT in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a settlement through its pre-litigation conciliation process. The lawsuit sought back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent discrimination in the future.
Sexual harassment and behaviors that fall under this category include: inappropriate touching; invasion of privacy; sexual jokes; lewd or obscene comments or gestures; exposing body parts; showing graphic images; unwelcome sexual emails, text messages, or phone calls; sexual bribery, coercion, and overt requests for sex; sexual favoritism; being offered a benefit for a sexual favor; being denied a promotion or pay raise because you didn’t cooperate. Of course, some women experience what more aptly could be described as sexual assault.
Sexual Harassment can affect both women and men in the workplace. While women are often the victims of workplace sexual harassment, men should not feel afraid to speak up if they too are made the victim. If a man comes to you with concerns of sexual harassment, don’t belittle their situation as denial or minimalization of female to male or male to male sexual harassment can silence victims and enable the harasser to commit the same acts on others.
Cases like Francisco Fine Foods LLC are all too common in the American workforce. Many people ask the question, “Why don’t victims of sexual harassment come forward sooner?” The simple answer is because victims of sexual harassment are often under heavy pressure from co-workers, the media, and their close relations like friends and family. They feel that when they step forward, they are putting themselves into center view. But, in today’s world, we should encourage sexual harassment victims to step into the view of those around them and let their situation be known. For every person who brings their story to the public, those that would commit sexual harassment have less and less power over their victims.
If you, a friend, family member, or coworker suffer from sexual harassment, contact Aegis Law Firm today and we’ll give you the power to share your story and reprimand sexual harassers in the workforce.