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EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Alleging Teenagers Worked In Sexual Hostile Environment Settles

woman against sexual harassment

In a press release issued on December 2, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has entered into a Consent Decree settling a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed against Del Taco, LLC (Del Taco). On September 17, 2018, the EEOC filed the case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Del Taco, LLC, Case No. 5:18-cv-1978, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Before initiating the civil action, the EEOC first tried to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. Unable to resolve the case through voluntary conciliation efforts, the EEOC moved forward with attempting to resolve the alleged discriminatory employment practices by filing the lawsuit.

In the Consent Decree, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder on November 30, 2020, Del Taco agreed to pay $1,250,000 to resolve the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. In this article, our Gainesville, Florida lawyers for sexual harassment explain the EEOC’s allegations of hostile work environment sexual harassment and retaliation against Del Taco.

Legal Protection For Sexual Harassment Victims

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 Del Taco, Katelyn Mejia (Mejia), and five other female employees of Del Taco. Title VII, which is the lynchpin of the federal governments efforts to eradicate discrimination from the American workplace, protects employees from discrimination on the basis of gender. Courts have determined that sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination forbidden by Title VII. Under Title VII, sexual harassment which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive work environment is an unlawful discriminatory employment practice. Title VII also protects employees from retaliation when they complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace. When an employee is subjected to an adverse employment action, such as demotion, reduction in pay, or discharge, in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment at work, the employee has been unlawfully retaliated against in violation of Title VII.

The EEOC claims that Del Taco violated Title VII by subjecting Mejia and the five other female employees to continuous sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment. The EEOC further claims that Del Taco violated Title VII by retaliating against Mejia for complaining about the sexual harassment and by forcing her to quit in order to escape the hostile working environment.

EEOC Claims Unlawful Sexual Harassment

Del Taco is a fast-food restaurant chain. The EEOC claims that Mejia, who was 16-18 years old when she worked for Del Taco, was sexually harassed by a General Manager, Shift Leader, and co-worker. The unwanted sexually harassing behavior towards Mejia included sexual propositions, sexual remarks, and comments about her physical appearance and buttocks. The EEOC further claims that the General Manager and Shift Leader subjected five other female employees to unwanted sexually harassing behavior, including sexual remarks and unwanted physical contact. One of the victims of the hostile work environment sexual harassment was seventeen years old when she was allegedly sexually harassed by the Shift Manager.

Failure To Stop Sexual Harassment

The EEOC alleges that Del Taco knew of the sexually harassing behavior in the workplace because Mejia and other employees lodged complaints to their supervisors and human resources. Despite having knowledge of the hostile work environment sexual harassment, according to the EEOC, Del Taco failed to take prompt and effective remedial action to end the harassment, including failing to conduct an adequate investigation in response to the complaints and failing to adequately discipline the alleged harassers.

Instead of taking corrective action to stop the sexual harassment from continuing, the EEOC contends, Del Taco retaliated against Mejia for complaining by reducing her hours. Because of the on-going sexually hostile work environment and retaliation, the EEOC claims that Mejia was involuntarily compelled to resign her employment. In forcing Mejia to quit in order to escape the hostile work environment, the EEOC further claims that Del Taco constructively discharged Mejia in violation of Title VII.

Lawyers For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment laws making discrimination, harassment, and retaliation unlawful employment practices. As part of its efforts to eliminate unlawful employment practices from the American workplace, the EEOC brings lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including sexual harassment and retaliation victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on December 2, 2020 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, Anna Park, explained that the “employers are encouraged to have strong systems in place to respond swiftly and effectively to harassment complaints—particularly where the workforce consists of young workers.”

Gainesville, FL Lawyers For Sexual Harassment

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Alachua County, Florida attorneys for sexual harassment have litigated sexual harassment lawsuits in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have experienced unwanted sexual conduct in the workplace or have questions about your rights as a sexual harassment victim under the federal employment laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Gainesville, Florida lawyers for sexual harassment. Our employment and labor law attorneys take sexual harassment 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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