EEOC Files Suit Against Sandwich Shop Franchise for Alleged Sexual Harassment of Job Applicants

WandererCreative [Public domain, CC0 1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via PixabayThe manager of an Albany restaurant sexually harassed at least two job applicants in violation of federal law, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). EEOC v. Draper Development LLC, No. 1:15-cv-00877, complaint (N.D.N.Y., Jul. 21, 2015). The complainants have alleged that the manager directly propositioned them for sexual activity, and they claim that he made it clear that a job offer was conditional on their acceptance. The EEOC is asserting a cause of action for sex discrimination, in the form of sexual harassment, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). It further alleges intentional discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a.

The defendant operates about 24 restaurants in the Albany area under a franchise agreement with the sandwich restaurant chain Subway. The EEOC claims that the specific instances alleged in its complaint are representative of more widespread practices at the defendant’s restaurant locations.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, the first complainant applied online for a job as a “sandwich artist” at one of the defendant’s locations in October 2013. Draper, complaint at 3. The complainant was 17 years old at the time. Several days later, she claims that she received a series of text messages asking “how badly” she needed a job and whether she would “sleep with the manager to get this job.” Id. at 3-4. The person sending the messages then made a direct sexual overture, politely paraphrased as “Have sex with me and you can have the job,” sent a “selfie” photograph, and identified the location where he worked. Id. at 4. The first complainant went to that location the following day with her boyfriend to complain about the text messages. She claims that the store manager “matched the photograph on the text message.” Id.

The second complainant, who was also 17 years old, applied for a job in person at the same restaurant location in October 2013. She interviewed with the manager, and she alleges that he told her that she had the job and that he would send her a schedule the following day. Instead of a schedule, however, she claims that she received a sexual proposition via text message the next day, and when she called the phone number associated with the text, the manager answered. She attempted to confront the manager at the restaurant, but she was told that he was not available. Neither complainant was hired by the defendant.

The complainants each filed complaints with the EEOC, and the EEOC filed suit against the defendant. The lawsuit asserts that the manager’s actions towards the complainants constitute sex discrimination under Title VII, since the alleged harassment was based on the complainants’ sex. It is demanding injunctive relief against the defendant, back pay with interest for the complainants, and compensatory damages for the complainants’ pecuniary losses. The EEOC also alleges that the defendant, through its employee, acted intentionally and “with malice or reckless indifference” to the complainants’ rights. Id. at 5. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, this would entitle the complainants to compensatory and punitive damages.

The sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent prospective, current, and former employees in New York City. We help our clients assert claims under city, state, and federal law for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, sex discrimination, and other unlawful employment practices. Contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team.

More Blog Posts:

Summer Concert Tour Faces Multiple Sexual Harassment Allegations, New York Employment Attorney Blog, August 31, 2015

New Report Exposes Widespread Nature of Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry, New York Employment Attorney Blog, August 17, 2015

Diplomatic Immunity May Bar Lawsuits for Sexual Harassment Against Consular Officials in New York City, New York Employment Attorney Blog, August 5, 2015

Photo credit: WandererCreative [Public domain, CC0 1.0], via Pixabay.

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