Greensboro Restaurant Fired Worker for Complaining About Abuse, Federal Agency Charged
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Charlotte-based Bojangles' Restaurants, Inc. has agreed to pay $33,426 and provide substantial additional relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that an employee at a Greensboro Bojangles' was sexually harassed and then fired for complaining about it.
The lawsuit further alleged that the female employee who was subjected to the sexual harassment, Shannie C. Norfleet, was fired by her male store manager who was allegedly harassing her, after she complained about the harassment to a higher-level manager and to human resources.
According to the EEOC's complaint, crew member Shannie C. Norfleet was subjected to sexual harassment by the store manager from around mid-2008 to July 2009. The complaint alleged the store manager made explicit, obscene sexual comments to Norfleet on several occasions, including requests for sexual favors and requests for oral sex in exchange for time off. The lawsuit further alleged that on one occasion, the store manager approached Norfleet in the restaurant's outdoor shed, exposed his private parts, and asked her to touch him. Norfleet complained about the harassment to the company's area director and its senior director of human resources, the EEOC said, but the harassment did not cease. Rather, the agency charged, Bojangles' discharged Norfleet in retaliation for her complaints.
Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bojangles' Restaurants, Inc., Civ. Action No. 1:11-CV-00641) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief to Norfleet and agreeing to provide neutral references to Norfleet's potential future employers, the company agreed to conduct annual training which covers sexual harassment and retaliation for its employees and managers within the region where the violations occurred. The company will also make its anti-harassment policy available to all of those employees. Finally, Bojangles' will report all sexual harassment and retaliation complaints within that region to the EEOC for the next two years.
"There is no place for harassment of any kind in the workplace, be it sexual harassment, race or national origin harassment, or harassment based on a person's age, disability or religion," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District. "Employers must be vigilant to take complaints about harassment seriously, and address them, or run the risk of EEOC charges and potential liability."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Tina Burnside added, "The settlement in this case requires Bojangles' to conduct training regarding the laws prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation, which we hope will prevent other employees from suffering discrimination in the future."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.