The owner and operator of an Arby’s restaurant chain with locations in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states agreed to settle a workplace harassment lawsuit filed by three teenaged workers. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the restaurant chain promoted a sexually hostile workplace environment. The allegations against the franchise’s owner were based on his not taking action to stop a male team leader from continuously harassing female workers after his abusive actions were reported.
Employees of the restaurant chain complained to management about the team leader making repeated unwelcomed physical contact. The complaint also noted his inappropriate remarks explicitly describing sexual acts he wanted to perform with the teenage employees. Although the complaints were made with the intention of addressing the team leader’s harassment, management took no steps to stop the abusive actions.
The lawsuit was settled with an $84,000 payment made to the three teenage accusers and the company agreed to create anti-harassment policies to prevent future issues. An additional part of the settlement was an agreement to provide training for the company’s management and employees to enable them to comply with federal employment laws prohibiting harassment.
Employers in Louisiana accused of promoting or enabling physical or emotional harassment towards an employee may be found in violation of federal and state workplace laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any company and its employees from discriminating against another employee due to their gender, race, color, national origin or religion.
Workplace harassment offenses may result in a company defending itself against a civil action in court which could result in substantial fines and punitive damages. The American Association of University Women provides an outline of employees’ rights under Title VII and how they may protect themselves when faced with on-the-job physical, emotional or sexual harassment.