Posted by jclark | Posted in Personal Injury News
The popular fast food chain Panda Express agreed to pay $150,000 to at least three former employees who were allegedly victims of sexual harassment at a store in Hawaii, according to a report from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Sources say the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Panda Express last September after several female employees lodged complaints.
The complaints, which went as far back as 2008, were made by female employees who were all between the ages of 17 and 19, according to sources.
A single restaurant in Kapaa, Hawaii, was the target of the lawsuit, which alleged that a supervisor at a Panda Express in the Kauai Village Shopping Center made regular sexual advances towards the girls.
In addition, the supervisor allegedly demanded sexual favors from several workers, and made a series of graphic comments that were sexual in nature, according to the complaint.
But Panda Express failed to take proper actions to control the supervisor, according to the EEOC, even though the employees reported the sexual harassment to the store’s manager, sources say.
Shortly thereafter, with the aid of the EEOC, the girls, who remain unnamed, filed a personal injury lawsuit against Panda Express, which ended with a settlement worth $150,000, according to reports.
In addition, as part of the settlement, Panda Express signed a two-year agreement that requires the store to designate one employee as the in-house equal employment opportunity coordinator.
Moreover, the store will have to revise its policies and procedures aimed at preventing sexual harassment, and it will be required to provide sexual harassment training each year to every Panda Express manager in Hawaii.
And while these measures may seem punitive, the risk of going to trial ultimately proved too large for Panda Express, which may have lost much more money had the chain failed to settle the case.
After the settlement was announced, representatives from the EEOC praised the company’s belated willingness to address the issue.
According to Anna Park, an attorney for the EEOC office that has jurisdiction over Hawaii, the agency commends Panda Expressed “for working with the EEOC to correct serious lapses in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.”
Park also said the agency trusts that “Panda Express’s company values are consistent with the goals of the EEOC’s mission,” and she commended the restaurant “for agreeing to broader injunctive remedies to ensure that the workers in Hawaii are protected.”