Do You Want Sexual Harrassment With That?

It seems that teenaged girls who work for a McDonalds’ franchise in Colorado didn’t know that they were signing on for a job that included supervisor groping, biting the employees’ breasts, and sexist comments.

The case is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Jobec, Inc., Case No:1:2006cv01871, filed September 19, 2006 and assigned to Colorado District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger

JOBEC, Inc. is a management company, that operates the interrelated corporations Colorado Hamburger Company, Inc. and Farmington Hamburger Company, Inc., who operate McDonald’s franchises in Durango and Cortez, Colo., and Farmington and Aztec, N.M.

As you will read below, part of the settlement involved sending letters to the teenaged victims of this sexual harassment. Now, bear in mind that these are young teens who have been groped and bitten, among other things. The letter says that the company expresses “sincere regret” that the victims found their employment at the Durango McDonald’s “to be objectionable“. The tone suggests surprise that the teens didn’t regard this treatment as a benefit of working for McDonald’s.

But that’s not all. It goes on to express regret that their “concerns” did not get prompt and appropriate responses, almost as if the issue were a fly in their drinks.

Sheesh.

One wonders how the company owners would feel if it had been their daughters. But maybe poor kids who need jobs at McDonalds and not internships at hot finance firms don’t deserve that sort of consideration.

Double sheesh!

According to the EEOC’s April 7 press release, the defendants agreed to settle the cases for $505,000, in addition to other relief.

DENVER – A Durango, Colo.-based McDonald’s restaurant franchise will pay $505,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a class of young female employees, including teens, the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit, Civil Action No. 06-cv-01871-MSK-CBS, was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against JOBEC, Inc., a management company, and the interrelated corporations Colorado Hamburger Company, Inc. and Farmington Hamburger Company, Inc., who operate McDonald’s franchises in Durango and Cortez, Colo., and Farmington and Aztec, N.M.

The Commission’s suit alleged that Tiawna Shenefield, now known as Tiawna Jacobson, Brandi Michal and a class of females, many of whom were 15 to 17 years old, were subjected to egregious sexual harassment in the workplace by their male supervisor. The harassment allegedly included the supervisor biting the breasts and grabbing the buttocks of the class members, making numerous sexual comments, as well as offers of favors in exchange for sex. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“The EEOC will vigorously prosecute claims of harassment, especially cases involving teenagers, many of whom are in the workplace for the first time,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix, Denver and Albuquerque offices.

Under the terms of the consent decree resolving the case, the defendants will pay the two named victims and their attorney, Lynne Sholler, of Durango a total of $450,000 for compensatory damages and attorney fees. An additional $55,000 will be distributed to two other class members represented by the EEOC.

The decree also provides for significant non-monetary relief, including letters of apology to the victims; training on sex discrimination in the defendants’ Colorado and New Mexico facilities; posting notices of non-discrimination in all of the defendants’ workplaces; and an injunction prohibiting discrimination and retaliation.

Chester V. Bailey, district director of the EEOC’s Phoenix office, added, “Employers must recognize their responsibility to assure that young workers — one of the most vulnerable segments of the labor force – are not harassed at work. That’s why the Commission has a national initiative to address this important issue.”

Attorney Lynne Sholler, who represented two of the alleged victims, said, “My clients and I are glad to have this case finally resolved. I am particularly pleased that this employer will be required to put in place training and procedures to prevent and address workplace harassment.”

According to the International Herald Tribune,

Terms of the settlement approved Thursday in federal court in Denver included letters of apology from franchise owner John Bronson. In an e-mailed statement to the Durango Herald, Bronson said he and his wife plan to move forward and that the matter was settled.

The Durango Herald says that the terms of those letters of apology are:

John Bronson, an owner of the local McDonald’s franchise, was required to write letters of apology to the victims.

“I wish to express my sincere regret that you found your experience, while employed at the Durango McDonald’s restaurant in 2004, to be objectionable,” he wrote.

“It is unfortunate that the former managers of the restaurant did not respond appropriately and promptly to your concerns in accord with our policies.”

He added: “The managers have admitted they knew it was their responsibility to protect employees from inappropriate conduct, but they did not. We are sorry for any perception you may have had that the managers blamed you for what happened to you at the restaurant.”

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