Chicago Restaurant Chain to Settle Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Suit for $160K

October 16, 2018

Chicago-based Rosebud Restaurants Inc. will pay $160,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged Rosebud, which owns approximately nine Italian restaurants in the Chicagoland area, with violating federal civil rights laws when it subjected two women to sexual harassment, and fired one of the women after she complained about the harassment and objected to employees referring to African-Americans by racial slurs.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Tina Rosenthal, who worked as a server at Rosebud’s now-closed Centro location in Chicago, was sexually harassed by another server in 2013. The alleged harassment included unwelcome sexual comments, sexual propositions, unwelcome touching and assaulting Rosenthal by grabbing her between her legs.

Rosenthal complained about the harassment to managers, but Rosebud did not take adequate steps to address her complaints, the EEOC said. In addition, Rosenthal, who is white, objected during a company meeting to employees using racial slurs to refer to blacks. A few weeks later, according to the EEOC, Rosebud fired Rosenthal for pretextual reasons.

In May 2018, the EEOC amended its complaint to seek relief for other women who it believed were subjected to sexual harassment at Rosebud. During the litigation, it identified another woman who was allegedly sexually harassed in 2014 while working at Centro by the same server who had harassed Rosenthal.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit on Sept. 20, 2017, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago (Civil Action No. 17 6815), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In September 2013, the EEOC sued Rosebud for failing to hire African-American applicants because of their race. That suit settled in May 2017 with a four-year consent decree providing $1.9 million in monetary relief for black applicants who were denied jobs at Rosebud and requiring hiring goals for African-Americans, recruiting of black applicants, monitoring of Rosebud’s hiring practices, and anti-discrimination training.

U.S. District Judge John Blakey signed the order entering the consent decree resolving the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit on Oct. 15, 2018.

In addition to providing for $160,000 in monetary relief to the harassed women, the decree prohibits Rosebud from engaging in sexual harassment or retaliation in the future. Further, Rosebud must provide annual training to all its employees regarding sexual harassment during the decree’s two-year term and provide semi-annual reports to the EEOC of any complaints about harassment or retaliation.

Source: EEOC

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