Sangria' Mexican Cafe Must Pay $51,700 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
A federal jury awarded $51,700 in back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to four family members who were fired for resisting sexual harassment at Sangria's Mexican Cafe. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of waitress Lauren Goldston. According to published accounts Goldston opposed sexual harassment and complained about unwelcome sexual advances, remarks, and inappropriate touching by a male cook at the restaurant.
To make matters worse, Goldston’s mother, Sara, aunt, Francesca, and uncle, Max, also worked at Sangria’s. Once they found out what was going on they reported the sexual harassment to Sangria’s’ owner. However nothing was done by the owner to stop the sexual harassment. In fact the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for all those who were involved. Sangria’s terminated all of the Goldstons in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.
“This verdict is significant because it indicates to employers that, regardless of their size, they must afford their employees the statutorily protected right to oppose unlawful discrimination without the fear of retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Bernice Williams Kimbrough.
Employees cannot be fired or have other adverse actions taken against them when they report sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination. Management has a legal duty to investigate and stop the discrimination in the workplace. In this case managements answer was to fire the messenger. This is not only bad for business but it also cost the company money.