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Case Bulletin – EEOC v. Route 22 Sports Bar, Inc. and Crazy Mexican Restaurant & Grill, LLC

The EEOC recently filed suit against two West Virginia Restaurants, Route 22 Sports Bar, Inc. and Crazy Mexican Resaurant & Grill, LLC.  The charging party, a female employee along with a class of female employees, alleged being subjected to a hostile work environment because of their sex. The Defendants also are alleged to have retaliated against the female employee.

The specific allegations involve Evelyn Cruz and Carlos Cruz Perez, the owners of the restaurants, as well as numerous male employees. To start, the restaurants did not have any complaint procedures for reporting sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, nor was there any training on such.

With regard to the specific female employee, Mr. Perez is alleged to have asked her about her personal and dating life, asking if she would send him pictures of herself. Furthermore, Mr. Perez is alleged to have sexually assaulted the female employee on multiple occasions, as well as offering to pay her for sex. Upon the female employee’s refusal to respond to the text offering payment for sex, Mr. Perez is alleged to have removed the employee from the schedule for that week, causing a loss of pay.

Some male employees of the restaurants are also alleged to have subjected the female employee to constant sexual harassment, including, but not limited to, touching her inappropriately without consent, kissing her without consent, frequently seeking pictures of her, and seeking to have sex with her.

Mr. Perez then is alleged to have begun spreading rumors stating that he and the female employee were in an intimate relationship and that he had paid her for sex. After all of this, the female employee informed Ms. Cruz as to the harassment, including showing the text messages from Mr. Perez. That night, Mr. Perez asked the female employee what she told Ms. Cruz, and the employee replied stating not to text her unless it was work related. Mr. Cruz then terminated the female employee’s employment. When the female employee attempted to report for her next shift, Ms. Cruz informed her that she was fired because Mr. Perez denied the reported harassment.

In addition to the specific employee, there is also allegations that a class of current and former female employees were subjected to similar situations. The allegations are that Mr. Perez frequently makes inappropriate sexual comments to female employees, propositions female employees for sex, directing female employees to change in front of him, and occasionally assaulting the female employees.

Based upon these allegations, the EEOC filed suit alleging that Mr. Perez and the male employees subjected the female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, and that the restaurants, through Mr. Perez and Ms. Cruz’s actions, subjected the female employee to retaliation.

The allegations of hostile work environment include claims that the conduct described was unwelcome, based on sex, offensive, and sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of employment, and that the Defendants knew or should have known but failed to take prompt, reasonable, remedial action to prevent or correct the harassment.

Furthermore, the claim of retaliation is due to the allegation that the female employee engaged in protected opposition to the unlawful employment practices, and that the Defendants took adverse action by removing her from the schedule then terminating her employment.

In filing suit, the EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction against the Defendants from engaging in sexual harassment, and from retaliating against individuals who report instances of sexual discrimination. The EEOC also seeks an order that Defendants institute an anti-harassment, discrimination, and retaliation policy; institute an effective complaint procedure for employees; post required Title VII notices; and implement mandatory training on sexual harassment/discrimination and retaliation for all managers and employees. The EEOC also seeks that Defendants be required to submit periodic reports to EEOC identifying all complaints of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Lastly, the EEOC seeks that the female employee and class of aggrieved employees be paid in an amount to be determined at trial, including past and future pecuniary losses, non-pecuniary losses, backpay with interest, front pay, and punitive damages against the Defendants.