A little more than a year ago, employees at San Diego P.F. Chang’s location won a roughly $1 million verdict in a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to a recent news feature from the Los Angeles Times, the same defendant is alleged to have engaged in additional incidents of sexual harassment at various other Southern California locations.
This first case that ended in 2014 involved two plaintiffs. Now, there are four women claiming they were repeatedly made to be victims of sexual harassment in Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Riverside, and Chino Hills. Their contracts required employees to use a binding arbitration process as opposed to filing a complaint in a civil court. There is also another alleged victim, but her case is somewhat different, because she was only 16 years of age at the time of the alleged harassment.
In her case, lawyers were able to file a claim in the Los Angeles County Superior Court instead of having to submit her case to binding arbitration. The reason she was able to do this is because, while she was old enough to work at the restaurant, she was not old enough to enter into a legally binding contract due to what is called being under the age of majority (still a minor), so the requirement to submit to binding arbitration was seen as being invalid against her.
In her complaint, she has alleged that she was sexually harassed at her Los Angeles workplace for two years and was then fired by her employer in 2014. It should be noted that while the company said it would not comment on what is the subject of ongoing litigation, they said the company is committed to keeping their workplaces free from any type of illegal harassment.
All five women say they were repeatedly subjected to “sexual attention” and even simulated sex where a supervisor and fellow employee would pretend to have sex with these women when they bent down to pick something up or were otherwise looking in another direction. All of the women also allege that supervisors and other employees tried to kiss them. The 16-year-old worker said a male employee grabbed her hand and forced her to put it inside his pants.
In each of their respective complaints, they alleged that they went to company human resources on multiple occasions to report the incidents, and instead of HR offering to help out with their situations, HR actually did just the opposite and cut their hours tremendously and eventually fired them. Some of them were were transferred to other restaurants that were a long distance from where they lived. This is obviously not very convenient for a worker and was essentially the same as making an inhospitable workplace in an attempt to get them to quit.
If these allegations are true, that would be considered a retaliatory termination, and that is a violation of the labor laws in Los Angeles and the rest of the state of California. If you ever find yourself in this situation, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
More female workers at P.F. Chang’s restaurants in Southern California allege sexual harassment, March 3, 2016, LA Times, By Morgan Cook
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