The National Restaurant Association confirmed Friday there had been a settlement between the association and a female staffer who had accused now U.S. presidential candidate Herman Cain and then former chairman of the NRA of sexual harassment in 1999. The NRA also has agreed to waive the settlement’s nondisclosure agreement.
Joel P. Bennett, the attorney for the staffer, had earlier last week requested that the association waive the agreement, allowing the staffer to respond publicly to Cain’s statements about the incident, in which he denied any misconduct.
Two other NRA employees also have claimed that Cain sexually harassed them when he led the trade group in the 1990s.
“Based upon the information currently available, we can confirm that more than a decade ago, in July 1999, Mr. Bennett’s client filed a formal internal complaint, in accordance with the association’s existing policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment,” Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based NRA, said in a statement.
“Mr. Herman Cain disputed the allegations in the complaint,” Sweeney said. “The association and Mr. Bennett’s client subsequently entered into an agreement to resolve the matter, without any admission of liability. Mr. Cain was not a party to that agreement. The agreement contains mutual confidentiality obligations.”
Cain had admitted earlier that he had been accused of inappropriate behavior while at the NRA, but the charges were false.
Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza in Omaha, Neb., was volunteer chairman of the NRA in 1994. He left Godfather’s in November 1996 to lead the association full time until July 1999, when he was named president and chief executive of Digital Restaurant Solutions.
Cain’s campaign, which has been dealing with these allegations for weeks, said in a statement: "We look forward to focusing our attention on the real issues impacting this country -- like fixing this broken economy and putting Americans back to work through our 9-9-9 Plan, as well as strengthening national security."
“Notwithstanding the association’s ongoing policy of maintaining the privacy of all personnel matters, we have advised Mr. Bennett that we are willing to waive the confidentiality of this matter and permit Mr. Bennett’s client to comment,” Sweeney said. “As indicated in Mr. Bennett’s statement, his client prefers not to be further involved with this matter, and we respect her decision.”
Bennett told members of the media that his client had “made a complaint in good faith about a series of inappropriate behaviors and unwanted advances from Cain” over a period of “a month or two.” However, he added, she saw “no value” in revisiting the issue now.
A call to Bennett’s office was not returned by press time.
The NRA represents the U.S. foodservice industry, encompassing 960,000 outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees.
Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected]