Burger King Franchisee Settles Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit for $2.5M
January 11, 2013
The largest Burger King franchisee in the world, Carrols Corporation, has settled a fourteen year sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation lawsuit this week, for $2.5 million. The lawsuit was brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Commission (EEOC), and accused the Burger King franchisee of discriminating against eighty-nine female employees throughout the country.
Howard Law's Santa Ana-based labor attorney Vincent Howard has been following this ongoing case, which has been called one of the most extensive lawsuits in the EEOC's history.
According to the EEOC's discrimination lawsuit, Carrols allowed a class of female Burger King employees, many of whom were teenagers, to be sexually harassed in locations throughout the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest. The harassment was reportedly mainly perpetuated by Burger King managers and consisted of sexual jokes, obscene comments and propositions, along with unwanted touching, stalking, exposing genitalia, strip searches and even rape. Carrols was also accused of retaliating against some women by reducing their work hours, unfairly disciplining them, and even terminating their employment. Many women were forced to quit because the harassment created an intolerable and hostile work environment.
As Vincent Howard often discusses in Howard Law's California labor and employment attorneys blog, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal to harass or discriminate against an individual in the workplace because of their sex. According to the EEOC, harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, or "sexual harassment," requests of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment of a verbal or physical nature. It is also a violation of Title VII to retaliate against any employees who stand up for their workplace rights by fighting against sexual harassment or discrimination, who file discrimination charges, or who participate in any other EEOC proceedings by participating, testifying, or assisting in cases.
Under the terms of the consent decree that resolve the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, Carrols will compensate the victims with $2.5 million in lost wages and compensatory damages. The Burger King franchisee will reportedly work to increase the employees' awareness of Carrols' anti-harassment policies, and improve the company's response to any harassment complaints in the future. This will include training and education to improve the managerial response to harassment, improving harassment complaint tracking, and posting notices in all Carrols Burger King locations that inform the employees about the resolution of the lawsuit, and their federal rights under anti-discrimination laws. Carrols is prohibited from engaging in any further harassment or retaliation in the future.
According to the EEOC, employers must ensure that their employees are aware of the harassment and discrimination policies under federal law, and the company must respond in an effective manner when complaints are brought to the company.
In Garden Grove, Laguna Beach, and Lake Forest, contact our labor and employment legal team at Howard Law, PC today. Call Vincent Howard for a free consultation at 1-800-872-5925.
Carrols Corp. To Pay $2.5 Million to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Commission Press Release, January 9, 2013
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