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Restaurateur tries the ‘I yell at everyone’ defense

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The subject of an EEOC gender discrimination lawsuit claims he berates all his employees, not just the women. The owner of Ricardo’s Restaurant in Erie said so in a response to a sexual harassment suit filed against him by a former employee.

The owner paints a picture of a highly charged workplace atmosphere where vulgar statements fly back and forth between him and his employees. However, he denies that any of it constitutes sexual harassment. He claims employees yell back at him, but are not disciplined.

The former employee who filed the charge claims she left the restaurant because the owner’s harassment created a hostile work environment. The owner claims the woman quit after he confronted her about her refusal to do any more work while on the clock.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the woman and any other similarly situated women at the restaurant. It also calls for sexual harassment training at the restaurant.

Note: Some workplaces get by for years on relaxed codes of conduct. However, the give and take described here can present openings for disaffected employees to make a case.

Employers need to remember that as they grow, the workplace must become more professional. That can sometimes be a difficult transition, but a necessary one.

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