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PRESS RELEASE
9-29-11

EEOC Sues Mendota Restaurants, Inc. for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Taco Bell/KFC Franchise Subjected Female Employees to Sexual Assault, Touching and Advances, Retaliated Against Those Who Complained, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO – Mendota Restaurants, Inc. and Devang Brahmbhatt, which run a Taco Bell/KFC franchise restaurant, violated federal law by subjecting female employees to severe sexual harassment, constructive discharge and retaliation against employees who complained about the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a discrimination lawsuit filed today. The restaurant is located in Mendota, Ill., which is 55 miles south of Rockford, Ill. 

The EEOC’s lawsuit stems from a charge of discrimination filed by a former employee of Mendota Restaurants, Inc., which is owned by Devang Brahmbhatt.  According to John Rowe, the Director of the Chicago District Office, EEOC’s administrative investigation of that charge revealed that a manager subjected female employees to sexual harassment, including sexual assault, sexual advances, touching and comments.  Additionally, several employees were forced out in retaliation for having complained about the sexual harassment, and others felt they had no choice but to quit because of the abusive working environment. 

John Hendrickson, the Regional Attorney of the Chicago District Office, said, “The sexual harassment in this case is more than egregious. It not only includes sexual assault, but in many instances the victims were teenagers.  This combination is sexual harassment at its worst and it is a clear a violation of federal discrimination law.” 

June Wallace Calhoun, the EEOC trial attorney leading the government’s litigation effort, added, “The employer was aware that its manager was engaged in sexual harassment and it chose to ignore multiple complaints of sexual harassment for more than a year before finally taking action.    Employment discrimination laws were created to protect workers from harassment by management employees, as well as from employers who choose to look the other way.” 

The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 11-cv-06845 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) after first attempting to voluntarily conciliate the matter.  The case has been assigned to District Judge Ronald A. Guzman.

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.