Beavers’ Management Ignored Ongoing Sexual Harassment Despite Repeated Complaints, Federal Agency Charged
Beavers’ Inc., owner and operator of 51 Arby’s locations in south Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle, has agreed to pay $84,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced last week.
The EEOC’s Mobile office investigated charges of discrimination filed by three teenage female crew members. The lawsuit charges that Beavers’ permitted a sexually hostile work environment based on ongoing sexually explicit comments and other harassment by an older male team leader at its Atmore, Alabama location. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged the harasser described sexual acts he wanted to perform with the teen workers, made inappropriate remarks about his anatomy, and deliberately pressed his pelvis against two of the female employees. According to the lawsuit, the three teen workers, as well as other employees, complained multiple times to on-site management about the harassment but the company allowed the harassment to continue.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Beavers’ Inc., d/b/a Arby’s, Case No. 1:18-cv-00150) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the 48-month consent decree resolving the suit, Beavers’ will pay $84,000 to the three harassment victims, will develop and disseminate anti-harassment policies, and will train its employees and managers on the requirements of Title VII’s prohibitions against sexual harassment. In addition, the company will instruct employees on how to report sexual harassment, and how managers should investigate complaints of sexual harassment.
“The EEOC remains committed to protecting vulnerable employees, such as teen workers in their first jobs, from a sexually hostile work environment,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “The EEOC is pleased that Beavers’ Inc. agreed early in the litigation process to take steps to prevent such harassment, and train its management how to promptly investigate and correct sexual harassment in the future.”
Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “An anti-harassment policy is insufficient without proper training on how to recognize, report, and investigate sexual harassment. Employers must realize that young employees who lack workplace experience may be too intimidated to complain and need workable avenues to report harassment without further humiliation or embarrassment.”
The EEOC’s Youth@Work campaign (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/) is designed to teach teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. It includes curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.
The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.
This is a press release from the EEOC.