Pei Wei Fresh Kitchen Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment of Teens and Young Adults
Restaurant Tolerated a Sexually Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charges
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Pei Wei Asian Diner, LLC, doing business as Pei Wei Fresh Kitchen in Little Rock Ark., violated federal law when it subjected a class of female teens and young adults to sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today. The sexual harassment, committed by the male general manager and the male kitchen manager, forced two of the discrimination victims to resign, the EEOC said.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the company had notice of the general manager's conduct by at least early 2016; however, he continued to harass the young female employees through early December 2017. In spite of receiving sexual harassment complaints against both managers, the company allowed the managers' harassment to go unchecked, the EEOC charged.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas Western Division, Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-00718, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination.
"Sexual harassment of young females in the restaurant industry remains a serious problem," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "The EEOC's suit seeks to rectify that problem."
The EEOC's Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/ ) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.