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EEOC Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Claiming Teenage Employee Was Harassed By Her Supervisor

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Having represented sexual harassment victims for nearly two decades, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have learned that employers still refuse to take prompt and effective remedial action to prevent a sexual harasser from continuing to harass employees.  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), employers are obligated to take prompt and effective correction action once they know or should know that an employee is engaging in sexually harassing behavior in the workplace.  As observed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in Munn v. Mayor and Alderman of Savannah, 906 F.Supp. 1577 (S.D. Ga. 1995), an employer’s remedial obligation is not limited to remedying the situation of the sexual harasser as a sexual harasser of a known victim.  Rather, the Munn court explained, an employer must take appropriate action to remedy the situation of the sexual harasser as a sexual harasser in the workplace.  A recent sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that once an employer knows or should know of a sexual harasser’s prior harassment of female employee, the employer can be held liable for the sexual harasser’s subsequent harassment of a different female employee.

Employers Must Protect Workers From Sexual Harassment

In a press release issued on August 7, 2019, the EEOC announced that it has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Par Ventures, Inc., d/b/a McDonald’s (Par Ventures) pursuant to Title VII.  On August 7, 2019, the EEOC filed the lawsuit, EEOC v. Par Ventures, Inc., d/b/a McDonald’s, Case No. 5:19-cv-341, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process.  The EEOC has brought the sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of an employee of Par Ventures, Jhaniya Walker (Walker).  In this article, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against Par Ventures.

EEOC’s Sexual Harassment Allegations

Par Ventures operates a chain of McDonald’s restaurants.  In June 2017, Par Ventures hired Walker to work at its McDonald’s in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Walker was 16 years old when she was hired.  The EEOC claims that Walker was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by a male People Manager at the restaurant.  The People Manager was Walker’s immediate supervisor.

Before the People Manager sexually harassed Walker, Par Ventures knew or should have known of his sexually harassing behavior towards female employees in the workplace.  Before the People Manager sexually harassed Walker, according to the EEOC, the restaurant’s Shift Manager expressed concern to the restaurant’s General Manager that the People Manager was trying to have sex with female employees.  The Shift Manager also told the General Manager that one or more female employees had complained to her about sexually inappropriate behavior by the People Manager.  The EEOC claims that the General Manager took no action to determine whether the People Manager was engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

On December 11, 2017, the People Manager asked Walker if she had ever sent nude pictures of herself to another person.  The People Manager offered Walker money in exchange for nude photos of Walker.  The People Manager also held up some cash and asked Walker if he could place the money in her bra. Walker refused.  The People Manager then instructed Walker to go into the restaurant bathroom, take nude pictures of herself, and send him the pictures.  Later that same day, the People Manager touched Walker’s breast and buttocks and attempted to place Walker’s hand on his penis.  Walker escaped from the People Manager and ran to the front of the restaurant.  When a different manager asked for a volunteer to clock out early, Walker volunteered because she was upset about the People Manager’s behavior.

After leaving work, Walker told her mother about the People Manager’s sexually harassing conduct.  The next day, Walker’s mother filed criminal charges against the People Manager on Walker’s behalf.  The EEOC maintains that Par Ventures is liable for the People Manager’s sexual harassment of Walker because it failed to prevent Walker from sexually harassing Walker after it knew or should have known that the People Manager was engaged in sexually harassing behavior in the workplace.  In other words, the EEOC claims that Par Ventures enabled the People Manager to sexually harass Walker because it failed to appropriately remedy the situation of the People Manager as a sexual harasser in the workplace before he sexually harassed Walker.

Sexual Harassment Is Unlawful Discrimination

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.  In enforcing the federal civil rights laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of victims of sexual harassment.  In a press release issued by the EEOC regarding the case, a Regional Attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, Lynette A. Barnes, stated that sexual harassment on the job is “especially unconscionable when the victims are our country’s most vulnerable workers—teenagers.”  “Employers have a responsibility to prevent such harassment and stop it,” Ms. Barnes added, “when they learn this kind of misconduct is occurring in their workplace.”

Free Consultation With Ocala Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have almost two decades of experience representing sexual harassment victims in cases before the EEOC.  If you have been subjected to a sexually hostile work environment or have questions about an employer’s obligation to protect you from sexual harassment, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys.  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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