The owner of eight IHOP restaurants in Nevada and New York will pay $700,000 and change its employment policies and practices to resolve U.S. government allegations that food servers and other crew members were subjected to widespread sexual harassment.
The policy changes agreed to by Lucinda Management LLC and the eight operating companies that run the franchises include dropping a requirement that workers report suspected sexual harassment within 72 hours of its occurrence or else forfeit any opportunity to complain.
The agreement between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which brought the lawsuit, and the companies was approved Feb. 19 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The lawsuit is part of the agency’s continued crackdown on workplace sexual harassment.
The EEOC’s September 2017 complaint alleged that unwanted touching of a female server’s buttocks was among the harassment that occurred. Workers also were subjected to vulgar insults and invitations to engage in sexual intercourse and women who complained about the harassment had their hours cut or faced similar retaliation, the EEOC alleged.
The $700,000 settlement fund will be divided among the workers who brought the alleged harassment and retaliation to the EEOC’s attention and other eligible class members identified by the agency, the agreement says. The companies also must hire a consultant to help them review and act on all prior complaints of sexual harassment or retaliation received within the prior 300 days and to otherwise guide the companies’ compliance with the settlement terms and anti-discrimination laws.
Lucinda and the other companies additionally must establish and maintain for the five-year term of the agreement a human resources department with employment law experience that is capable of properly handing bias and harassment complaints and preventing and correcting such conduct. They must similarly implement a process for and an open-door policy encouraging workers to report harassment, including a 24-hour, toll-free complaint hotline.
The pact also requires employee training and the creation of a process for class members who no longer work for the companies to reapply for employment.
EEOC attorneys in Los Angeles and Las Vegas represented the agency. Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker represented the companies.
The case is EEOC v. Lucinda Mgmt., LLC, D. Nev., No. 2:17-cv-02458, consent decree approved 2/19/19.