Red Lobster Pays $160,000 in Sexual Harassment Suit

Red Lobster Restaurants will pay $160,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

According to the lawsuit, the then culinary manager at the Red Lobster restaurant in Salisbury, Maryland, subjected Valerie Serman, Racheal Cox, and Jennifer Tolbert to severe and pervasive sexual harassment, including pressing his groin against them, grabbing and groping them. The EEOC charged that the manager also frequently made sexually offensive comments, including remarks about the bodies of female employees and about his genitals. The restaurant’s general manager not only failed to take prompt action to stop the sexual harassment, but he too had a history of making vulgar and sexually charged remarks about female employees, the lawsuit claimed.

Besides the $160,000 in monetary relief to the three claimants, the two-year consent decree enjoins Red Lobster from engaging in or condoning sexual harassment or engaging in unlawful retaliation at its Salisbury facility. The restaurant will provide training to all of its employees at that facility regarding compliance with the federal antidiscrimination laws, with an emphasis on the prohibitions against sexual harassment and retaliation, and will post a notice regarding the settlement.

“Sexual harassment should not be tolerated by any employer,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office said. “It’s especially pernicious when a manager is the alleged harasser.”

What Harassment and Discrimination Cases Mean for Employers

Here’s what employers can take away from these settlements:

  1. Cases drag on for years before finally being settled. Consider the attorney’s fees paid out on top of the settlement amounts.
  2. Think of all the emotional damage caused to the employees and the internal mistrust generated. Is this something your organization can afford?
  3. This exposure can create brand damage and unhappy shareholders.
  4. Companies must train their managers. Those who don’t face lawsuits more often than those who do. Don’t be that company who is now forced to provide training as part of a settlement or verdict.