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El Vallarta Restaurant Sued for Sexual Harassment

Teen Worker Was Touched Inappropriately, Forced to Quit, EEOC Alleges

ST. LOUIS - El Vallarta, a Nebraska restaurant, violated Title VII when it allowed a supervisor and other workers to sexually harass a teenage female employee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, the young woman worked at an El Vallarta restaurant in Gretna between 2016 and 2017, where coworkers subjected her to repeated inappropriate comments about her body. The agency alleges the restaurant's manager, Hector Barron, was aware of the harassment and did not stop it. Rather, according to the suit, Barron also harassed the teenage employee by grabbing her buttocks at work. When the young woman reported Barron's conduct, he showed up unannounced at her home on multiple occasions and attempted to confront her about her complaint. Fearing for her safety and continued harassment, she was forced to resign.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska (EEOC v. El Vallarta, LLC, El Vallarta III, LLC, and El Vallarta IV, LLC, Case No. 8:18-cv-00522), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In addition to its Gretna location, El Vallarta also operates restaurants in Blair and La Vista, Nebraska. The EEOC alleges that the locations are jointly managed and operated as an integrated enterprise.

The agency seeks back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the harassed employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future harassment and discrimination based on sex and to otherwise bring the company into compliance with federal law.

"The EEOC is committed to ensuring that all workers, especially our nation's most vulnerable workers - children - are free from sexual harassment on the job," said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC's St. Louis District. "Employers have a responsibility to prevent such harassment, and when it does occur, they must take prompt and appropriate action to correct the problem."

James R. Neely, Jr., director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office, added, "The EEOC will continue to enforce the law when employers allow this type of sexual harassment in their workplaces. In addition, the agency also provides resources to help employers prevent harassment and remain in compliance with the law."

The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.