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Wrongful Termination Case Where Employee Fired After Complaining About Sexual Harassment Settled By EEOC

Sexual harassment in workplace. Prejudice office. Protection female rights.

On January 15, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against BCD Restaurants, LLC, d/b/a Zaxby’s (Zaxby’s).  On September 5, 2019, the EEOC filed the case,  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. BCD Restaurants, LLC, d/b/a Zaxby’s, Case No. 1:19-cv-00903, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. 

The EEOC brought 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 Zaxby’s, Victoria Jones (Jones).  Title VII protects employees from sexually harassing behavior which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive work environment.  Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace.  The EEOC claims that Zaxby’s violated Title VII by requiring Jones to work in a sexual hostile work environment and by firing Jones in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassing behavior to which she was subjected.  In this article, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against Zaxby’s and the Consent Decree.

Employee Alleges Sexual Harassment

In November 2018, Jones began working for Zaxby’s as a cashier. The EEOC claims that Jones was subjected to a steady barrage of unwanted sexually harassing behavior by the General Manager of the Zaxby’s where she worked.  The General Manager’s unwelcome sexual behavior included explicit sexual propositions, including asking Jones if he could perform various sexual acts on Jones.  In December 2018, according to the EEOC, the General Manager asked Jones to go to a hotel with him for the purpose of having sexual intercourse.  The General Manager told Jones that he would pay for everything and all that she needed to do was wear fish net stockings.  Jones declined the General Manager’s invitation.

EEOC Claims Wrongful Termination

On January 23, 2019, Jones reported the General Manager’s sexually harassing conduct to a co-owner of the Zaxby’s where she worked.  On Jones’ next scheduled day of work, January 25, 2019, the General Manager continued to make sexual comments to Jones.  On January 26, 2019, Jones attempted to secure access to Zaxby’s online computer system to obtain her schedule for the following week.  Jones was unable to access the system.  On January 28, 2019, Jones reported to the restaurant to see if she was scheduled to work.  The General Manager told Jones that one of Zaxby’s owners had decided to terminate her employment.

Retaliation Victim Compensated

In the Consent Decree settling the lawsuit, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Loretta C. Biggs on January 15, 2019, Zaxby’s agreed to pay Jones $30,000 to resolve the sexual harassment and retaliation case.  In the Consent Decree, the EEOC required Zaxby’s to implement a formal, written anti-discrimination policy.  Zaxby’s anti-discrimination policy must define sexual harassment, provide examples of sexual harassment, provide a complaint procedure for employees to report sexual harassment, state that Zaxby’s will thoroughly investigate all complaints of sexual harassment, and state that no form of retaliation will be tolerated.  The EEOC further mandated that Zaxby’s distribute its new anti-discrimination policy to all employees within ninety days.

Enforcing Employees’ Rights

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 employees who have been subjected to sexual hostile work environment harassment and employees who have been retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace.  In a press release issued by the EEOC on January 15, 2020 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, Kara Haden, explained that a “company’s ability to provide a work environment free of harassment is dependent on its employees being able to report this sort of abuse without hesitation.”  “Every time an employee complaint about harassment leads to discharge,” Ms. Haden added, “the entire work environment is placed at risk.”

Consultation With Ocala Wrongful Termination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have represented employees in hundreds of cases before the EEOC.  If you have been wrongfully fired or have questions about your protection against wrongful termination under the federal civil rights laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination lawyers.  Our employment law attorneys take wrongful 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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