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Restaurant settles male-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit for $600,000

Restaurant settles male-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit for $600,000

A well-known New York steakhouse has reached a $600,000 settlement of a male-on-male sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday.

The EEOC said 22 male waiters at Sparks Steak House in Manhattan were subjected to harassment based on their sex, chiefly by one male manager, over a nearly eight-year period. The agency said the misconduct included inappropriate comments and touching.

Although many waiters complained to other managers and Sparks' owners, the harassment did not stop and some suffered retaliation for complaining by being given more difficult work assignments and/or ultimately being suspended, the EEOC said.

In addition to the $600,000 fine, the settlement requires the restaurant to establish a complaint hot line to report incidents of discrimination; distribute an amended policy to all employees that prohibits harassment and retaliation; conduct anti-discrimination training; and report all sexual harassment and/or retaliation complaints to the EEOC.

“When an employer fails to address harassment and responds by retaliating against the victims, it compounds the violation,” Charles E. Coleman Jr., lead EEOC trial attorney on the case, said in a statement. “We believe this is a fair resolution.”

While Sparks Steak House Vice President Steve Cetti said, “We absolutely deny all the charges,” he said the restaurant settled the lawsuit to put the litigation behind it. He said the original plaintiff in the case has been involved in litigation against two other restaurants.