Lawsuit underscores widespread crisis of sexual harassment and discrimination in the restaurant industry
A worker at Ezell’s Famous Chicken has filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court alleging she was sexually harassed and assaulted while at work.
For two years, the worker’s supervisor, the General Manager of the Bellevue Ezell’s Famous Chicken location, engaged in an escalating pattern of harassment, assault, and intimidation. Meanwhile, corporate management at Ezell’s failed to provide sexual harassment policies or training in Spanish or any way for this worker to report the General Manager’s sexual harassment to upper management at the company without fearing for her job.
The full court filing is available here. Specific allegations raised in the complaint include:
Sexual harrassment and assault: the store’s General Manager engaged in an escalating pattern of unwanted sexual behavior, including many instances where he made sexually-explicit and derogatory verbal comments to her, touched the worker’s body without her permission, and an occasion where he groped her body while after trapping her in a walk-in freezer.
Corporate responsibility: Management at this Ezell’s location provided no sexual harassment training in Spanish, nor did they offer any procedure for workers to bring forth complaints about sexual harassment or other mistreatment
Sexual harassment is a widespread crisis facing workers in the restaurant industry. A 2021 study from the University of California Berkeley found that 71% of women restaurant workers had been sexually harassed on the job.
Immigrant women workers are particularly likely to face sexual harassment and assault at work, as a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center highlights.
Ezell’s Famous Chicken currently operates 17 locations in the region.
The worker is represented by attorneys at Fair Work Center and Frank Freed Subit & Thomas, LLP.
Contact Jeffrey Gustaveson: firstname.lastname@example.org