Burger King to Pay $85,000 for Teen Harassment

Burger King Corp. will pay $85,000 and furnish what EEOC calls "significant non-monetary relief" to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by agency. EEOC had charged that a female employee of the Clemmons, N.C., Burger King was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment from approximately December 2006 to March 2007, when she was 18 years old.

In its lawsuit before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, EEOC said that worker Kathleen Joyner was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment during those four months by the general manager of the Clemmons-based restaurant (EEOC v. Burger King Corporation, d/b/a Burger King, Civil Action No. 1:08-cv-00703). The harassment included unwelcome touching, overt sexual advances, and frequent requests for sexual favors. The suit further asserted that Joyner complained about the harassment to her assistant managers, who failed to take appropriate action to stop the unlawful conduct.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. In addition to $85,000 in monetary damages, the consent decree settling the suit provides for injunctive relief preventing Burger King from discriminating against any person on the basis of sex or any other protected group under Title VII, and from retaliating against anyone who complains about such discrimination. The decree also requires Burger King to post its non-discrimination, harassment, and equal employment opportunity policy in its Clemmons restaurant, where the harassment occurred, as well as each of its Winston-Salem, N.C., restaurants.

Further, the consent decree requires Burger King to provide anti-harassment training to all managers and shift coordinators at the Clemmons restaurant and at the Winston-Salem Burger King--where Joyner’s general manager was transferred--and to review its anti-sexual harassment policy with each new employee at those restaurants. Finally, Burger King agreed to provide EEOC with semi-annual reports of all written and verbal sexual harassment complaints received from employees at its Clemmons restaurant.

"Federal law requires employers to take reasonable steps to eliminate sexual harassment once an employee complains," said Lynette A. Barnes, EEOC's regional attorney for the Charlotte District. "The EEOC will continue to be aggressive in litigating egregious harassment cases, especially where the employer’s failure to stop the harassment results in harm to a teenager or young adult."

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