A federal discrimination lawsuit has been filed against Los Agaves , Inc., Davenport, according to records in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa – Eastern Division.
The civil action was filed Sept. 29 by the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to “correct unlawful employment practices on the bases of sex and retaliation and provide appropriate relief to aggrieved individuals who were adversely affected by such practices,” documents say.
The suit accuses Los Agaves of discrimination against a group of female employees when it “subjected them to a hostile work environment and constructive discharge based on sex, and engaged in retaliation for opposing unlawful employment practices, including discharging an employee because she objected to sexual harassment.”
Since at least August 2016, the suit allegations say Los Agaves of “subjecting aggrieved individuals” to harassment based on sex, including physical abuse and/or unwanted sexual comments.
“For example, employees exposed their genitals, grabbed women’s bodies in a sexual manner, attempted to kiss them, propositioned them for sex, and subjected them to lewd and offensive jokes, all of which was unwelcome,” the suit alleges. “Defendant’s managers also viewed pornography in the workplace with the volume turned up.”
The “aggrieved individuals” repeatedly reported the harassment to managers and owners “and asked them to address it.” Los Agaves did not take disciplinary action or other remedial action against the harassers, “and the harassment continued, and, in some cases, worsened,” the suit alleges.
The suit alleges that the extreme nature of the harassment “created working conditions so intolerable that (the employees) could not endure them. For example after one (person) reported harassment to one of (the) managers, the manager refused to address the harassment and instead threatened to report the (person) to immigration authorities if she made further reports of harassment,” the suit says.
The suit alleges “Other managers also responded to reports of harassment by attempting to threaten (people) into silence, rather than address sexual hostility in the workplace.”
“Defendant’s response to the reports of harassment demonstrated to (the aggrieved people) that Defendant had no intention of addressing or preventing sexual harassment at the restaurant, and that they could expect the harassment to continue unabated indefinitely,” the suit alleges.
A number of people “were compelled to leave their employment,” the suit says.
“A few days after one woman reported sexual harassment to one of the restaurant’s owners, Defendant discharged the woman,” the suit alleges. “Defendant also attempted to conceal the nature of the discharge by falsely characterizing it as a transfer to another restaurant, even though, in reality, Defendant simply ended her employment and took no steps to transfer her.”
In the suit, the commission asks for an order that Los Agaves institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs that provide equal employment opportunities for employees regardless of sex, and which “eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful employment practices.”
The commission also asks for Los Agaves to provide “appropriate back pay, in amounts to be determined at trial, and other affirmative relief necessary to eradicate the effects of its unlawful employment practices, including but not limited to reinstatement or front pay in lieu of reinstatement.”
The commission asks Los Agaves to “make whole” the “aggrieved individuals” by providing compensation for past and future pecuniary losses resulting from the unlawful employment practices described above, in amounts to be determined at trial” along with “compensation for past and future non-pecuniary losses resulting from the unlawful practices complained of above, including, but not limited to, emotional pain, suffering, humiliation, and inconvenience, in amounts to be determined at trial.”
The commission requests a jury trial “on all questions of fact raised by its complaint that do not relate solely to equitable relief.”
Local 4 News reached out to Los Agaves for comment, but has not received a response as of Thursday afternoon.