Rhode Island restaurant worker brings sexual harassment claim


Victims of workplace sexual harassment are legally protected. A former dishwasher at a national chain restaurant recently brought a lawsuit in Rhode Island alleging sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. The former dishwasher brought a claim against his former managers accusing them of discriminating against him for being a heterosexual male and allowing sexual harassment from a male coworker to continue despite being aware of it. The man asserts that the male coworker repeatedly touched him inappropriately. The man also asserts he complained about the harassment but the manager tolerated it.

In addition, according to the lawsuit, the restaurant retaliated against him. Under state and federal discrimination laws, employers cannot retaliate against employees or discriminate against them for reporting discrimination or harassment. In addition, state and federal laws bar employment-related discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex. The man asserts he was inappropriately touched by a male coworker and reported it to his manager but was told that was how the gay staff behaved and that the behavior was tolerated.

The man also reported to his manager that he could not immediately return to work. Approximately two weeks later, the man reported to his manager he did not want to return to work until the situation was addressed and that he felt unsafe in the workplace because of the working environment. He asserts his manager swore at him and then fired him. The restaurant chain is accused of violating the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act by permitting severe and pervasive unwanted harassment which created an abusive work environment. In addition, the former dishwasher asserts he was retaliated against by managers after he complained.

Sexual harassment and workplace discrimination are significant issues that the law takes seriously. Both state and federal laws protect victims of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination and victims should be familiar with both the resources available to them and their rights to a safe workplace.

Source: Providence Journal, "Ex-dishwasher sues Cheesecake Factory, alleging sexual harassment," Katie Mulvaney, Aug. 23, 2017

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