The Albuquerque Journal is reporting the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit yesterday against several companies doing business as IHOP restaurants in Albuquerque. The lawsuits allege the IHOP restaurants violated federal law by subjecting a group of female employees to sexual harassment. The suit also alleges the restaurants forced some women who could not tolerate the harassment to resign.
The companies include Mantanio Inc.; RJM Hope Inc.; Nader Inc.; 1921 Inc.; New Features Inc.; Evon Inc.; Falls Restaurant Group Inc.; Adi Unser Inc.; and Adi Brothers Management Group Inc., the EEOC said in the suit.
The women, including some teenage hires, were subjected to pervasive sexual comments and innuendo and unwelcome touching or attempted touching of their bodies, by a general manager working for several of the restaurants. This is known as creating a “hostile work environment” one of two types of sexual harassment. The EEOC also alleges that the defendants transferred the manager among its six IHOP restaurants in Albuquerque, but he continued the sexual harassment.
This case is an important reminder for employers about repeat offenders. When claims of sexual harassment are raised by employees promptly conduct an investigation. IHOP made the right move by transferring the manager out of one store to the next. The franchise made the mistake though of continually transferring an employee knowing the likelihood of continued harassment was high. It would be prudent to set-up a three strikes policy or some other means to prevent repeat problem employees from exposing your restaurant to a lawsuit.
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