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PRESS RELEASE
9-28-11

Albuquerque IHOP Owners Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment

Manager Abused Women and Teenaged Girls in Several Restaurants, Federal Agency Charges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Several companies doing business as IHOP restaurants in Albuquerque violated federal law by subjecting a group of female employees to sexual harassment and forcing some women who could not tolerate the harassment to resign, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 27, 2011. The companies include Mantanio, Inc., RJM Hope, Inc., Nader, Inc., 1921, Inc., New Features, Inc. Evon, Inc., Falls Restaurant Group, Inc., Adi Unser, Inc., and Adi Brothers Management Group, Inc.

In its suit, the EEOC said that the general manager of several of the Albuquerque IHOP restaurants, Lee Broadnax, subjected Jami Juarez and a class of women to sexual harassment. The women, including some teenage hires, were subjected to pervasive sexual comments and innuendo and unwelcome touching or attempted touching of their bodies, which created a hostile work environment for them. The EEOC also alleges that the defendants transferred Broadnax among its six IHOP restaurants in Albuquerque, but he continued the sexual harassment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Mantanio, Inc., RJM Hope, Inc., Nader, Inc., 1921, Inc., New Features, Inc. Evon, Inc., Falls Restaurant Group, Inc., Adi Unser, Inc., and Adi Brothers Management Group, Inc. Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-00863) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

“We continue to see a significant number of class sexual harassment cases throughout our district affecting a large number of employees,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. “We are particularly concerned when sexual harassment is allowed to happen over periods of years with no effective action by the employer to stop it. The EEOC will prosecute such cases vigorously.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order these companies to provide all the affected women with appropriate relief, including back wages for those forced to resign; compensatory and punitive damages; and a permanent injunction enjoining the company from engaging in any further gender-discriminatory practice. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

EEOC Deputy District Director Elizabeth Cadle said, “Cases like this, where teenagers are among the victims, are especially distressing and in need of the EEOC to take forceful action, as we did here. Employers have an important responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.