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Del Taco to pay $1.25 Million in settlement for a sexual harassment lawsuit

  • 17 March, 2021

Del Taco has recently agreed to a $1.25 million settlement after numerous claims of sexual harassment came to light. It was back in 2018 when the fast food chain was investigated and sued by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after employees reported pervasive sexual harassment at a few different locations in the Inland Empire.

A group of young women working at several Del Taco locations reported to the EEOC the sexual harassment they had to endure at work from their male co-workers. Those directly accused of the sexual harassment were a general manager and several shift leaders in stores located in Rancho Cucamonga, Pomona, Ontario, and Upland.

The young women describe being thrown vulgar comments at a daily basis, which included propositions for sex. These women also claim that they were constantly being touched inappropriately. Katelyn Mejia, one of the woman alleging sexual harassment, describes how her shift leader would make inappropriate comments about his favorite sexual positions and make comments towards her that included “you are hot” and “you are sexy.” Another female employee, claims that her shift leader would brush up against her and inappropriately hold on to her shoulders and hips.

The women said the sexual harassment was so prevalent that more male employees, after seeing that there were no consequences, were later encouraged to participate in the sexual harassment as well.

Initially, some of the young women did try to make formal complaints with human resources. However, they quickly found out that this was a lost cause as human resources failed to correctly address their complaints. Instead, the women soon realized that complaining only led to retaliation as one of the female employee that complained about the sexual harassment saw her hours significantly cut.  All of the women who endured the sexual harassment ended up resigning from Del Taco after no action was done to stop the ongoing harassment.

Rosa Viramontes, the director of the EEOC LA district office, has commented that it is generally group of young women like those working at  Del Taco who are “especially vulnerable to workplace harassment” and that “it is important for employers to recognize this and create policies and practices that ensure a safe and harassment free work environment”

The settlement amount of $1.25 million was accompanied by a consent decree. This consent decree means that Del Taco must begin to administer anti-discrimination training. Along with the training another provision Del Taco must follow is to have an EEOC monitor. The EEOC monitor will be in charge of several thing like overviewing the policies on workplace discrimination, monitoring for workplace discrimination, and assisting in constructing a system that will help track harassment complaints made. The consent decree for Del Taco will remain in effect for 3 years. Moreover, Del Taco must also post the terms of the decree in a laminated notice in all of their locations in 16 states.

Del Taco has recently released a comment regarding the settlement saying that “The safety and well-being of our employees are always top priorities and we take any harassment allegations very seriously. We fully cooperated with the EEOC throughout its investigation and the matter has been resolved. In addition, we completed an internal investigation and took appropriate measures. We remain committed to providing a safe environment for all employees and customers, free from harassment of any kind.”

Source: NYT, DailyBulletin

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