EEOC Sues Texas Roadhouse for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation
Restaurant Manager Subjected Class of Females, Including Teens, to Abuse Including Sexual Selection, Federal Agency Charges
CLEVELAND - East Columbus Host, LLC, dba Texas Roadhouse and Ultra Steak, Inc., violated federal law by subjecting several females working at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Columbus, including some in their teens, to sexual harassment and then retaliating against them for opposing the misconduct, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
The EEOC said Eric Price, a managing partner at the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant located at 5490 East Main Street in Columbus, sexually harassed females at the restaurant beginning in 2007. The harassment included pressure for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits or as a condition for avoiding adverse employment action. The harassment was so open and notorious that managers engaged in the hiring process were encouraged to evaluate female applicants for hire based on whether they were young, attractive, and "screw-able" enough to take back to Price's apartment. EEOC also alleges that although management officials were aware of the harassment, they failed to take effective action to stop the harassment and prevent it from recurring. Instead, the EEOC said, females who opposed the harassment suffered retaliation, including threatening workers who complained or inquired about complaining; interfering with work schedules, leave opportunities, job advancement, and other favorable terms and conditions of employment; demotion; and constructive discharge or discharge.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division (Case No. 2:14-cv-01696-JLG-EPD) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages and lost wages and benefits.
"This manager abused his position to prey on females, including especially vulnerable minors, and subjected them to blatant and severe sexual harassment," said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and portions of New Jersey and Ohio. "Once the company was put on notice of this abuse, it had a legal responsibility to take immediate and appropriate action to stop the misconduct. When an employer fails to do so, the EEOC must and will hold that employer accountable."
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC recently updated its [email protected] website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/), which presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. The website also contains curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce.