Hometown Buffet Agrees to Settle Sexual Harassment Suit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced a class litigation settlement against Hometown Buffet, Inc., on behalf of teens and Latinas who were subjected to a sexually hostile workplace, including verbal and physical abuse, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Specifically, EEOC alleged that Hometown Buffet failed to prevent and tolerated a pattern of ongoing sexual harassment in which male managers, supervisors, and co-workers subjected female employees to a sexually hostile workplace, including groping, hugging, kissing, sexual advances, and stalking employees outside the workplace.

One female victim was allegedly raped by a male co-worker. EEOC further alleged that due to the female employees' young age and/or lack of English proficiency, a breakdown in the company's complaint process failed to adequately remedy the sexual harassment.

In addition to a monetary settlement of $710,000, the two-year consent decree resolving the matter will also ensure the implementation of measures to prevent and remedy sexual harassment at the company's El Cajon location. These measures include annual training for employees, managers, and supervisors regarding sexual harassment and retaliation; a formal complaint procedure with close tracking of any future complaints; and, providing annual reports to EEOC regarding future complaints and remedial action.

"Sexual assaults are increasingly becoming more commonplace in sexual harassment cases," said Anna Y. Park, EEOC Regional Attorney at the Los Angeles District Office. "During this economic downturn, it is more important than ever for employers to actively ensure a workplace free of hostility. What may appear to be a short term gain by cutting out training on EEOC laws, may result in long term cost to a company if claims of discrimination are not actively prevented or corrected."

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