Twenty-two men say that they were subjected to rampant sexual harassment at a popular East Coast restaurant for nearly eight years. The men say that the restaurateur did nothing to stop the harassment, but when some of the waiters raised the issue with management, the men say that they were given more difficult work assignments or even suspended.
The men say that a male manager groped male waiters on their backsides, made lewd comments and attempted to grab the men in private areas. The men complained to upper management, and even the owner of the establishment, without any action from the company to stop the male-on-male sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit. The company reportedly agreed this week to settle the workplace harassment lawsuit.
It is important to note that federal law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. That concept is bolstered by protections in the law prohibiting employers from retaliating against a worker who complains about the hostile work environment.
Workers in Florida, like the East Coast case, are provided with legal protection from the indignity of sexual harassment. The laws not only prohibit a sexually hostile workplace, but employers and managers cannot pressure workers into providing sexual favors in exchange for job security or incentives at work.
Sexual harassment claims in the area of employment law are declining somewhat in recent years, according to the Associated Press. But, the percentage of workplace sexual harassment claims brought by men has risen. Male sexual harassment charges account for roughly 16 percent of all claims.
The company reportedly denies any wrongdoing in the settlement agreement. A spokesperson for the restaurant says that the company decided to settle for financial reasons and to avoid further negative publicity surrounding the lawsuit.
The settlement reportedly includes damages and other relief intended to eliminate further harassing conduct. The restaurant, Sparks Steak House, received national exposure in the 1980s after an alleged mafia hit on its doorstep made news, according to the Associated Press.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "Steakhouse settles male-on-male harassment lawsuit," Associated Press, Nov. 15, 2012