New York’s Sparks Steak House has agreed to shell out $600,000 to settle a sexual-harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of dozens of waiters subjected to inappropriate advances by a single restaurant manager.
According to the lawsuit, over an eight year period the accused harassed some 22 male servers—groping backsides, making lewd comments and attempting to touch their genitals. When some waiters complained, they were either ignored, given more difficult work assignments or suspended.
“The severe sexual harassment at Sparks ran rampant for too long,” says EEOC attorney Robert D. Rose. “Employers must recognize and act on their duty to prevent sexual harassment of any kind.”
As part of the settlement, management at the 46-year-old eatery promised to conduct staff anti-discrimination training, establish a complaint hotline for reporting incidents of discrimination, and amend its policy prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation.