Red Lobster Restaurants LLC has agreed to pay $160,000 and provide a significant amount of equitable relief to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three employees of Red Lobster who claimed that they were sexually harassed by the culinary manager at their restaurant. According to the lawsuit, the culinary manager inappropriately touched the women and frequently made vulgar sexual comments about their bodies. The general manager of the restaurant not only failed to put a stop to the harassment, but also contributed to the harassment by making sexually inappropriate remarks about the employees. Ultimately, the managers’ severe and pervasive harassment resulted in a sexually hostile work environment that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
What is a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment is created when an employee is treated abusively or harassed in such a severe and pervasive manner that it disrupts his or her ability to work. Not all unpleasant and uncomfortable workplaces are considered “hostile” in the legal sense, as employment law does not provide a “general civility code” for the workplace. In order for an employee to establish the existence of a hostile work environment under federal or New York State law, he or she must prove that:
- The workplace misconduct was severe or pervasive enough to alter the terms or conditions of the victim’s employment.
- The harassment, intimidation, or abuse was a result of the employee’s membership in a protected class.
Fortunately for NYC employees, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) provides broader protections than its state and federal counterparts. In order to establish a hostile work environment under the NYCHRL, the employee need not demonstrate that the misconduct was “severe or pervasive.” Rather, the employee only needs to prove that he or she was “treated less well” than other workers due to his or her membership in a protected class. Because the NYCHRL provides more comprehensive protections to employees, it is easier for victims of sexually hostile work environments in NYC to win a lawsuit under city law. Therefore, it is highly important for employees who have been subjected to hostile work environment to find a lawyer knowledgeable in not only federal and state law, but also city law.
The Lawyers at the Akin Law Group are Ready to Help
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or hostile work environment in your workplace, contact the Akin Law Group at 866.685.5163 immediately to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers are highly knowledgeable in all aspects of employment law, and are ready to help maximize your chances of success in court.