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Florida Employer Ignored Sexual Harassment Victim’s Complaints EEOC Lawsuit Claims

Lustful man looking at his secretary

In a press release issued on September 10, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (Chipotle). On September 9, 2020, the EEOC filed the case, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.,Case No. 8:20-cv-02128, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District District of Florida after initially attempting to resolve the case through its statutory mandated conciliation process. Unable to reach an acceptable agreement through conciliation, the EEOC elected to address the alleged unlawful employment practices by filing the lawsuit.

The EEOC has 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 Chipotle, Cassandra Jerome (Jerome). Title VII makes sexual harassment in the workplace an unlawful employment practice. Title VII also makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers to retaliate against employees who complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace. In this article, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation against Chipotle.

Sexual Hostile Work Environment Alleged

In November 2017, Jerome began working for Chipotle at its restaurant in Orlando, Florida as a crew member. Jerome participated in a fast-track management program that rotated her quickly through various positions in the restaurant so that she would become an apprentice manager. At the time of her termination, Jerome was working as the restaurant’s Service Manager. In this position, Jerome was supervised by the Apprentice Manager and General Manager.

From March 2018 to May 2018, according to the EEOC, Jerome was subjected to unwanted sexually harassing behavior by a kitchen crew member, a man named Avila. The unwanted sexually harassing behavior by Avila towards Jerome included repeated sexually charged remarks, such as making explicit sexual propositions and remarks about her breasts. Avila’s sexually charged remarks were frequent, occurring two to four times a week. Avila’s unwanted sexual behavior ultimately escalated to physical touching, including touching Jerome’s buttocks and rubbing up against her as she passed by during work shifts.

Starting in April 2018, Jerome reported Avila’s sexual comments and physical touching to Chipotle management, including the Apprentice Manager and General Manager, at least four times. Despite her multiple complaints, Chipotle did not investigate the allegations or take any corrective action against Avila. As a result, Avila’s sexual harassment continued. On May 14, 2018, Avila sexually assaulted Jerome in the workplace on two occasions. Jerome immediately reported the sexual assaults to the Apprentice Manager. Together, Jerome and the Apprentice Manager reported the sexual assaults to the General Manager, who assured Jerome that appropriate steps would be taken to investigate and resolve her complaint.

On May 19, 2018, with local management having failed to take any action regarding her complaints of sexual harassment, Jerome informed the Manager and Apprentice Manager that she needed to bring her complaints to the corporate office. The General Manager told Jerome that she would forward the complaints to the corporate office, but the General Manager never reported the complaints to human resources or any upper management official. On May 22, 2018, three days after the General Manager told Jerome that she would forward her sexual harassment complaints to the corporate office, Jerome was fired.

Fighting For Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment laws making sexual harassment and retaliation unlawful employment practices. As part of its enforcement machinery, the EEOC is authorized to file lawsuits on behalf of sexual harassment and retaliation victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on September 10, 2020 regarding the case, the acting director for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Bradley A. Anderson, explained that “employers have a duty to protect their workforce from sexual harassment when they learn it is occurring.” “Ignoring complaints of sexual harassment and failing to take action to remedy the problematic behavior,” Mr. Anderson stated, “violates federal law.”

Ocala, FL Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers have represented sexual harassment victims for more than twenty years. If you have been required to work in a sexually hostile work environment or have questions about your rights as a sexual harassment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida sexual harassment lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes 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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