As the fiscal year came to a close and on the eve of the federal government shutdown, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed nearly two dozen employment discrimination lawsuits including one against GMRI, Inc. alleging discrimination based on sex on behalf of a class of women employees at a Salisbury, Maryland, Red Lobster Restaurant. EEOC v. GMRI, Inc., No. 13-2860 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Md., filed September 30, 2013).

According to the complaint, the defendant’s former culinary manager created a sexually hostile and offensive work environment for the two women who filed the complaint as well as “other similarly situated female employees” by engaging in frequent sexual touching, sexual comments, sexual advances, and vulgar sexual conduct. The conduct, which was allegedly “open and notorious and occurred on a frequent and routine basis,” was purportedly condoned by a former general manager who “himself had a history of making sexually charged and vulgar comments about the female staff.”

While EEOC litigation remains suspended during the shutdown, Red Lobster has reportedly stated that is has “strong defenses” and that “[t]he allegations relate to inappropriate conduct by a manager that occurred three years ago. We have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of harassment or discrimination. As soon as we were made aware of this situation in 2010, we investigated and terminated the manager responsible.” See Corporate Counsel, October 3, 2013.