Philadelphia Employment Law News

Hurricane Grill and Wings Sexual Harassment Suit Settles

When most people think of sexual harassment, they think about managers harassing underlings or coworkers harassing fellow coworkers. But in the Hurricane Grill and Wings sexual harassment lawsuit, the restaurant chain was accused of customer sexual harassment of employees.

This case is important for employers to know as Hurricane Grill could have been held liable not for the acts of people they control — their employees — but for the acts of total outsiders, their customers.

According to the lawsuit, Hurricane Grill and Wings allowed a class of female waitresses be sexually harassed by a customer at its Palm Beach, Florida location. The alleged harassment included servers being grabbed on their breasts and buttocks and humiliated by sexual innuendo, as well as direct invitations to join the harasser and his wife in ménage a trois.

While the company may not be able to control the initial acts of a rowdy customer, it was claimed that Hurricane Grill is expected to take steps to stop harassment on subsequent incidents especially when one customer repeats the same acts.

Instead, it's alleged that Hurricane Grill did not take these steps and allowed the harassment to continue. In fact, it was even alleged that the restaurant fired one of the employees for hiring a private attorney to look into the complaint.

The EEOC says that employers must protect their employees from a hostile work environment including acts by customers. The restaurant decided not to fight this claim and the Hurricane Grill and Wings sexual harassment lawsuit ultimately settled for $200,000. This is an expensive lesson for all businesses that they can be held accountable for the acts of their customers.

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