- The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a Jack in the Box franchisee in Texas for allegedly allowing a general manager to sexually harass young female workers for nearly two years, according to an EEOC press release.
- Several employees, including an assistant manager, reported the harassment to the parent company, Rock Strategic, which failed to take any meaningful action, the commission alleged.
- The EEOC often pursues cases against fast food franchisees who fail to protect their workers from sexual harassment. Such harassment of restaurant workers — both by customers and managers — has been one factor driving workers to leave the industry in recent years, workers advocates argue.
The suit seeks “back pay damages, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive remedies, including an order requiring the employer’s human resources team to have oversight on all investigations into sexual harassment.”
The EEOC alleged the manager made repeated sexual advances towards young, female employees, and “physically assaulted some of the female employees.” The manager allegedly groped one employee and masturbated in front of a second.
The regional manager and director of operations for Rock Strategic knew about the harassment, according to the EEOC, “but no appropriate or effective corrective or remedial action was taken.”
“Sexual harassment in the work environment damages an employee’s perspective of the working world,” said Brooke López, a trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “It is especially damaging when you have to combat this harassment by your boss as a teenager in one of your first jobs. That is unacceptable.”
The franchisee, Jack in the Box, and the EEOC all did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The relief won for workers in EEOC suits can vary widely. Last month, a Bojangles franchisee agreed to a $20,000 settlement in a harassment case. Earlier this year a major McDonald’s franchisee agreed to pay nearly $2 million after the EEOC sued the operator for allowing teen workers to be repeatedly sexually harassed. Another McDonald’s franchisee, Rice Enterprises, declared bankruptcy earlier this year, in part to reduce the litigation costs after a manager, who was a registered sex offender, allegedly raped a 14-year-old worker.
In 2019, a former employee in Texas sued Jack in the Box for allegedly tolerating sexual harassment.