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Sexual Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Claiming Victim Was Unlawfully Fired Settled By EEOC

Touch knee. Movement against sexual harassment. Businessman Sexually Harassing Female Colleague.

In a press release issued on February 4, 2021, 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 Georgina’s, LLC (Georgina’s). On June 14, 2018, the EEOC filed the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Georgina’s, LLC,  Case No. 1:18-cv-00668, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Before commencing litigation in federal court, the EEOC first attempted to correct the alleged discriminatory employment practices through conciliation. Conciliation efforts having failed, the EEOC invoked its right under federal law to correct the alleged discriminatory employment practices through litigation in federal court.

In the Consent Decree, which was endorsed by U.S. District Court Judge Hala Y. Jarbou on February 4, 2021, Georgina’s agreed to pay $200,000 to resolve the sexual harassment and retaliation case. In this article, our Marion County, Florida lawyers for sexual harassment victims explain the EEOC’s allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation against Georgina’s.

Legal Rights Of Sexual Harassment Victims

The EEOC brought the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit on behalf of a former employee of Georgina’s, Jessica Werthen (Werthen). Title VII, which is was passed by Congress at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement, protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Under Title VII, sexual harassment which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile work environment is an unlawful discriminatory employment practice. In order to protect the rights of sexual harassment victims, Title VII also contains an anti-retaliation provision. Under Title VII, employees are protected from retaliation when they complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace.

The EEOC claims that Georgina’s violated Title VII by creating and maintaining a sexually hostile work environment. The EEOC further claims that Georgina’s violated Title VII by terminating Werthen’s employment in retaliation for complaining about the sexually hostile work environment.

Sexually Harassed & Fired For Complaining

Georgina’s is a restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan. The EEOC alleges that throughout her employment with Georgina’s, Werthen was sexually harassed by Georgina’s owner. The owner’s unwanted sexual conduct, according to the EEOC, included sexual remarks, sexual propositions, remarks about her buttocks, telling her that he thought about her in the shower, and identifying female customers he wanted to have sex with. The EEOC further alleges that the owner engaged in sexually harassing behavior towards other female employees. The owner’s alleged sexual conduct towards other female employees included sexually touching them, kissing them without consent, forcing them to sit on his lap, and ordering them to approach restaurant guests he found sexually desirable and obtain their phone numbers for him.

The EEOC alleges that Werthen was retaliated against after she complained about the owner’s sexual behavior to the owner and other managers. After Werthen verbally complained about the owner’s sexually harassing conduct to the owner and another manager in early January 2016, the owner stripped her of authority in the kitchen, gave her less favorable shifts, cut her hours, and was openly hostile and abusive towards her. On February 7, 2016, according to the EEOC, Werthen submitted a written complaint of sexual harassment by the owner to another member of management. Within ten minutes of Werthen submitting the complaint, the owner received it and fired her.

Lawyers Fighting For Sex Harassment Victims

The EEOC, which is an administrative agency of the federal government, is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII. As part of its statutory mission to enforce employee rights under the federal anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC brings federal court lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including sexual harassment and retaliation victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on February 4, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office, Kenneth Bird, stated that “the owner’s behavior was egregious and widespread.” The Consent Decree, Mr. Bird added, “reflects the EEOC’s commitment to stand up to such behavior.”

Sexual Harassment Lawyers In Ocala, FL

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida attorneys for sexual harassment victims have litigated sexual harassment cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have been sexually harassed at work or have questions about your protection from retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment at work, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida lawyers for sexual harassment victims. 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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