A Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Arizona agreed to pay $248,750 to three male employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, charged that the male employees of a Fleming’s location in Scottsdale, Ariz., were sexually abused by a former chef.
Fleming's officials, however, noted that the settlement is not an admission of liability.
According to the lawsuit, the employees accused the chef of, among other things, touching their private parts and groping them from behind.
The lawsuit also alleged that several managers at Fleming’s knew of the behavior and did nothing to stop it.
EEOC attorneys said the lesson for employers is to protect their staff from sexual harassment.
“This means doing a meaningful internal investigation designed to find the truth and not designed to merely cover tracks,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, EEOC regional attorney. “Here, not only did Fleming’s not fire the harasser, they let him continue the harassment for more than a year and a half before allowing him to resign.”
Joseph Kadow, executive vice president, chief officer of legal and corporate affairs for Fleming’s parent OSI Restaurant Partners LLC, said in a statement that Fleming’s has “always been committed to a workplace free of harassment, and we have appropriate policies and training in place for prevention and to address any incidents that may occur.
“Fleming’s acted responsibly under the circumstances of this case and settled the matter, without admitting liability, to avoid the distraction of continued litigation,” Kadow said.
Contact Lisa Jennings [email protected].