Several IHOP franchises have agreed to pay $700,000 after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued them, alleging they failed to prevent or correct continual sexual harassment and retaliation against employees (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Lucinda Management, LLC, et al., No. 2:17-cv-02458 (D. Nev. Feb. 19, 2019)). They will also have to create an HR department of professionals with experience handling and preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
The franchises created a hostile work environment for employees after they ignored worker complaints about harassment, EEOC alleged in its complaint. Furthermore, the restaurants allegedly retaliated against some of the employees who spoke up about the problems, behavior which included reducing work hours, groundless discipline and termination. One restaurant, the complaint said, fired an employee after the worker reported seeing a cook "regularly touch female food servers' genitals and kiss them."
The restaurants also agreed to stop using a “72-hour sexual harassment policy”, which required employees to submit complaints of sexual harassment in writing within 72 hours. This had the obvious effect of preventing valid claims of harassment from being investigated and remedied.
As a part of the settlement agreement, the franchises will work with an EEO monitor who will, among other things, ensure any harassment-related policies, procedures and practices comply with Title VII and the consent decree's requirements.