Sexual harassment is on the EEOC’s radar, as we know. And we also know that the EEOC intends to continue its practice of filing class action or systemic lawsuits. Finally, we blogged last week that the EEOC encourages settlements.
It is therefore not a total surprise that the EEOC has just announced that it settled a class action sexual harassment case for $1,000,000 against IHOP restaurants in two New Mexico counties owned and operated by one individual. It was alleged that a single manager subjected a class of 22 women, including some teenagers, to sexually offensive comments and unwanted touching, and some of these women were forced to quit because of this.
The EEOC claims that this is the second-largest litigation settlement ever reached by the EEOC's Albuquerque Area Office.
We concur with the statement of an EEOC attorney: "Managers must constantly be reminded of their obligation to maintain workplaces where employees are not subjected to illegal harassment or forced to quit because of the harassment. Where managers fail to satisfy these obligations, it is the employer's responsibility to correct the violations and prevent other violations from occurring. These women and all women deserve to work without being harassed because of their sex. It is especially true that given these difficult economic times, women should not be forced to choose between intolerable sexual harassment and wages for their families."