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Earlier this year, Sparks Steak House in Manhattan agreed to pay $600,000 to settle charges brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging sexual harassment of 22 male workers by a male supervisor. The lawsuit in EEOC v. Michael Cetta, Inc. d/b/a Sparks Steak House alleges that the floor manager, or maître d’, sexually harassed male waiters at the restaurant for years, grabbing and pinching their buttocks, rubbing up against them, and attempting to grab their genitals. The complaint further alleges that workers who complained were retaliated against, which is itself an additional violation of federal law.
The United States Supreme Court recognized same-sex sexual harassment in 1998 in the case of Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc.
A victim of sexual harassment who cannot resolve the matter internally should file a claim with the EEOC. The EEOC has 180 days to decide whether to investigate the complaint and take action against the employer. If the EEOC declines to pursue the matter, they will provide the employee with a “right-to-sue” letter, allowing the employee to take the employer to court and sue for damages. A lawsuit could be filed in federal court alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, or in New York state courtNew York Human Rights Law. State claims can also be filed with the New York State Division or Human Rights or the Department of Labor.
Filing a complaint with the right agency or court in a timely manner can be critical to a successful claim. In New York City, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. to discuss your case with an experienced New York employment law attorney.