Federal Court Verdict Warns Businesses Against Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Lawyers commenting on a $50,700 verdict against Sangria’s Mexican Café in Tucker, Georgia indicate that owners of the restaurant made damaging comments during a 2009 investigation – comments including an admission from the owner fired employees because he feared that they would make false allegations to government agencies. Lawyers for the EEOC said in response “you can’t fire someone because you fear they will go to a government agency.”
The EEOC suit against Sangria’s claimed that the restaurant fired a waitress after she complained she had been subjected to sexually hostile working environment by a male coworker and the owner of the restaurant failed to take action to stop the offensive sexual harassment. The lawsuit also alleged that the victim’s family members (they also worked there) were prevented from doing tasks on her behalf that would have prevented contact between the victim and the aggressor. The victim’s mother was also accused of abandoning her shift even though she had received permission from a shift manager to leave early after a family medical emergency occurred. When the victim and her mother subsequently complained to the EEOC, they and their family members were fired. The owner also fought to keep them from claiming unemployment benefits.
A trial in the United States District Court in front of an eight member jury resulted in a verdict for the victims finding that they had been fired in retaliation for the victim’s harassment complaint. The jury also found that they were entitled to a total of $4,000.00 in back pay, $31,000.00 in compensatory damages and $15,700.00 in punitive damages. A district director for the Atlanta EEOC office stated that the verdict was “significant” and that “it indicates to employers that regardless of their size, they must afford their employees the statutorily protected right to oppose unlawful discrimination without the fear of retaliation.” If you are interested in reading more about the case it is captioned as EEOC v. Sangria’s, No. 1:09-cv-2566.
Have you been discriminated against by your employer because of your race or gender? Is someone at your job sexually harassing you? Have you been fired because you have complained about a hostile work environment? As an employee you should be aware of your rights and be prepared to take action if they are violated. Federal laws are in place to protect your rights and many employment laws include for the payment of compensation to you and your legal counsel when those rights are found to have been violated by an employer. Call Atlanta Employment Attorney J. Stephen Mixon at 770-955-0100 or use our website contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your employment case.
Posted by J. Stephen Mixon. Mr. Mixon is an Atlanta, Georgia employment lawyer. He has been fighting to protect the rights of Georgia’s workers since 1992. Mr. Mixon’s practice is focused on Labor & Employment law and he has many years of experience in handling sexual harassment cases, complaints related to employment discrimination and many other complex legal issues related to business litigation such as contract disputes, business fraud, interference with contractual relations and copyright infringement. Mr. Mixon can be reached at 770-955-0100.
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