Owner/General Manager Sexually Harassed Female Employees, Federal Agency Charges

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Plantation, Florida IHOP restaurant franchise violated federal law when its owner and general manager subjected a class of female employees to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, women working at the IHOP restaurant were sexually harassed by Manish Patel, who is the owner and general manager of Swami Pancake, LLC. Mr. Patel asked female servers to go out on dates, made crude sexual comments to them about female body parts and touched them, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by the statute.

The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Division, (EEOC vs. Swami Pancake, LLC d/b/a IHOP, Case No. 0:19-cv-60714-UU) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages for the discrimination victims as well as injunctive relief.

“The EEOC will continue to fight against sexual harassment-including, of course, in the restaurant industry, where sexual harassment continues to be so pervasive,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, which includes Fort Lauderdale within its jurisdiction.

Michael Farrell, director of the EEOC’s Miami District Office, added, “The EEOC’s Select Task Force on Harassment continues to look for solutions to the problem of sexual harassment in the work­place. Employers must follow federal law, which protects employees from sexual harassment at work.”

The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa, and San Juan offices and has jurisdiction over most of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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.