The International House of Pancakes (“IHOP“) will pay $105,000 to two waitresses who were sexually harassed by an assistant manager.The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) handled the case on behalf of the two waitresses and a federal jury awarded them $105,000 at the conclusion of the trial. Both waitresses were teenagers when they worked for IHOP, and according to testimony at trial were subjected to unwelcome physical touching, propositions for sex and sexual comments. This behavior created a hostile work environment. Additionally one of the waitresses alleged retaliation because she refused to the sexual advances.
Other waitresses said they faced sexual harassment and reported that IHOP, did not correct the situation. The assistant manager accused of the sexual harassment quit for unexplained reasons, at the time the investigation started. One waitress could have received more money but jurors were presented with evidence of her MySpace page, with links to sexually-charged materials. You can see how important it is to not have that type of material on the Internet. The second waitress who didn’t have that type of material on the Internet was awarded $100,000 in punitive damages.
It is clear the jury was “outraged” by the way the company handled the situation, Jean Kamp, associate regional attorney for the EEOC Chicago District Office said.
I tell clients all the time to make sure they don’t have anything on the Internet that could be harmful to their case. In this instance, the Myspace page with sexual type content cost the one waitress almost $100,000. Litigation is serious business and both sides end up under the microscope. It is very important to conduct yourself in public in a very professional way, understanding that the jurors will see everything you are doing.