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Sexual Harrasment Verdict: Server Repeatedly Sexually Harassed At Restaurant Awarded $112,878.80
Sexual harassment at the workplace can result in significant damage awards. In Raker v. Bar-BQ Pit, Inc. 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167792 (E. D. Pa. November 25, 2013) (Stengel, J.), the Plaintiff employee, represented by Jeffrey Elliott,  worked as a full-time server for the defendant restaurant for 9 months. She was subjected to a hostile work environment throughout her employment due to the constant sexual harassment of the restaurant’s owner whose conduct included unwelcomed touching and kissing, notwithstanding her pleas for him to stop. The owner also made inappropriate comments about Plaintiff’s body on several occasions, and frequently asked Plaintiff to go on vacations with him with some kind of sexual encounter implicit in his invitations. On one occasion, the owner approached Plaintiff from behind, placed his hand under her shirt, and touched her breasts; on another occasion the owner placed his hand or her knee, continued up her leg onto her thigh, and stopped with his hand on her crotch. The inappropriate behavior greatly upset Plaintiff who felt that it was impossible to quit because she had two young children to support. Plaintiff repeatedly reported these behaviors to the managers of the restaurant and nothing was done to stop the behavior. Plaintiff’s work hours were gradually reduced so that eventually she was not even scheduled to work; the more she complained, the fewer hours she was scheduled to work.

The court found that the Plaintiff established a prima facie case of employment discrimination based on her gender, retaliation, a sexually hostile work environment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Further, the court found that the Plaintiff’s constant complaints to the Defendant’s management team regarding the hostile work environment, its outright dismissal of those complaints, its lack of action to stop the continued harassment, and its retaliatory conduct against the Plaintiff provided a more than adequate basis for employer liability. Besides loss of income Plaintiff testified that the experience affected her emotionally, causing emotional pain and distress, suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life, all of which she experienced as a result of the defendant’s illegal workplace conduct. The Plaintiff employee also had physical problems which arose from the sexual harassment and retaliation including a loss of sleep, a decrease in appetite, and increased stress. Following a trial, the Court awarded the Plaintiff a sum total of $112,878.80 which includes $16,792.31 for lost wages, $50,000 for emotional distress, $43,257.50 for attorneys’ fees and $2,827.99 in costs.

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