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EEOC Settles Lawsuit Charging Sexual Harassment Victim Was Fired For Reporting Harassment

Payback Roadsign. Business Concept.

In a press release issued on October 30, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Wrig Management, LLC and Wrig Sugar Hill, LLC, d/b/a Locos Grill & Pub (collectively, Locos Grill). On April 22, 2020, the EEOC filed the case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Wrig Management, LLC and Wrig Sugar Hill, LLC, d/b/a Locos Grill & Pub, Case No. 1:20-cv-1707, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Before initiating the lawsuit, the EEOC endeavored to settle the case through its voluntary conciliation process. Unable to reach an acceptable settlement agreement through conciliation, the EEOC exercised its statutory right to remedy the alleged unlawful employment practices through litigation.

In the Consent Decree, which was entered by U.S. District Court Judge Leigh May Martin on October 30, 2020, Locos Grill agreed to pay $20,000 to resolve the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. In this article, our Marion County, Florida attorneys for retaliatory termination explain the EEOC’s allegations against Locos Grill.

Legal Protection Against Retaliatory Termination

The EEOC filed the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of Locos Grill, Anya McDuffie (McDuffie). Under Title VII, sexual harassment which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile or abusive working environment is an unlawful employment practice. Title VII also protects employees from retaliation when they complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace. Under Title VII, it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to subject an employee to an adverse employment action, such as demotion, reduction in pay or hours, or discharge, because the employee lodged a sexual harassment complaint.

The EEOC claims that Locos Grill engaged in intentional discrimination against McDuffie in violation of Title VII by subjecting her to hostile work environment harassment on the basis of her sex, and by failing to take prompt and effective remedial action to remedy the hostile work environment. The EEOC further claims that Locos Grill violated Title VII by firing McDuffie in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment.

EEOC Alleges Sexual Harassment

On June 5, 2017, McDuffie was hired as a line cook to work at Locos Grill’s restaurant in Sugar Hill, Georgia. Shortly after her employment began, McDuffie was allegedly subjected to unwanted sexually harassing behavior by a co-worker. On June 12, 2017, McDuffie reported the unwelcome sexual harassment to a supervisor. The supervisor, according to the EEOC, failed to report McDuffie’s complaint to Human Resources. The EEOC contends that Locos Grill took no action in response to McDuffie’s sexual harassment complaint.

On July 14, 2017, the harasser approached McDuffie from behind, pressed his pelvic region against McDuffie’s buttocks, and gyrated his hips against her buttocks while she cooked. About one week later, the harasser followed McDuffie into the restroom while she was cleaning and asked if she wanted him to join her in the restroom to show her what he was “working with.” On July 31, 2017, McDuffie approached a Human Resources representative who was at the restaurant and told the representative that she was being sexually harassed by a co-worker.

EEOC Alleges Retaliatory Discharge

The Human Resources representative provided the restaurant manager with forms for McDuffie to complete. On August 3, 2017, McDuffie returned the completed forms to the restaurant manager. McDuffie was not told the results of any purported investigation into her sexual harassment complaint. On September 14, 2017, McDuffie approached the restaurant owner and asked to speak with him about her sexual harassment complaint. The owner agreed to speak with her. McDuffie did not meet with the owner, and instead met with the Human Resources representative and restaurant manager—who told her there was no evidence to support her sexual harassment complaints.

The Human Resources representative encouraged McDuffie to resign, but McDuffie told the representative that she did not want to lose her job. The Human Resources representative asked McDuffie, “What do you want me to do about it?” Ultimately, McDuffie, the Human Resources representative, and restaurant manager agreed that McDuffie and the harasser would no longer work the same shift and that the company would counsel the harasser. Locos Grill then sent McDuffie home and did not allow her to complete her shift.

Locos Grill, according to the EEOC, never implemented the agreed upon remedies. Instead, Locos Grill never again scheduled McDuffie to work, nor did the company inform McDuffie that she had been placed on any schedules. From September 15, 2017 until September 20, 2017, McDuffie repeatedly contacted the Human Resources representative and the restaurant manager regarding returning to work, but she was ignored.

Attorneys For Retaliatory Termination

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws making discrimination, harassment, and retaliation unlawful employment practices. In attempting to remedy unlawful employment practices in the American workplace, the EEOC files lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including retaliatory termination victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on October 30, 2020 regarding the case, an acting regional attorney for the the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, Robert Weisburg, stated that “employers are responsible for preventing and remedying workplace harassment.” “Employers will be held responsible,” Mr. Weisburg explained, “when they retaliate against employees who are brave enough to report harassment.”

Ocala, FL Retaliatory Termination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida retaliatory termination attorneys have represented retaliatory termination victims for more than twenty years. If you have been terminated for exercising your employee rights or have questions about your rights as a victim of a retaliatory termination, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida retaliatory termination lawyers. Our employment and labor law attorneys take retaliatory termination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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