Subway franchise failed to act, now must pay for harassment

A Wilmington company that operates several Subway restaurants will pay two former employees $55,000 to settle sexual harassment complaints against an assistant store manager. The EEOC sued SKMATCH Inc. in federal court after attempting to resolve the dispute without going to court.

According to the complaint, Helena Miller and a female co-worker were consistently harassed by a male assistant manager at the store. Miller was only 18 at the time, and the assistant manager was at least 10 years older.

Before taking her case to the EEOC, Miller complained internally about the behavior, which allegedly included repeated sexual comments, sexual propositions, name calling and sexual touching. The suit said SKMATCH management failed to address the harassment.

In addition to paying Miller and her co-worker, the settlement agreement includes a five-year consent decree requiring SKMATCH to conduct sexual harassment training, beef up its procedures for handling harassment complaints and report suspected harassment to the EEOC for monitoring.

Note: Employers can limit sexual harassment litigation and expense if they act quickly and fairly on sexual harassment complaints. Tell managers in no uncertain terms: You must follow through when an employee complains about any behavior that could be construed as sexual harassment. Ignored harassment complaints often become big payouts.