Three and possibly more male employees at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Chandler claim they were sexually harassed by other male workers, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC contends one of the plaintiffs in the suit was improperly fired in 2006 after he complained about being repeatedly sexually abused by groups of males at the restaurant, 3111 W. Chandler Blvd.
The suit was filed June 30 after the EEOC reported it failed to reach a voluntary settlement with the Delaware-based corporation.
“Employers who subject individuals to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District office.
“Sexual harassment against men is just as egregious as against women.”
Several telephone calls to the restaurant’s legal counsel in Calabasas, Calif., were not returned.
The suit alleges that the three plaintiffs and possibly more unidentified male employees’ genitals were “grabbed by other workers and they were bumped from behind in a sexual manner on multiple occasions.”
The suit contends sexual remarks were made during the harassment and that the Cheesecake Factory failed to prevent or correct the reported problem.
EEOC District Director Chester Bailey, in a news release issued Thursday, said approximately 16 percent of sexual harassment charges involve male victims.
He said that male sexual harassment cases handled by the EEOC have been steadily increasing in the last 15 years.
The EEOC is seeking back pay for a fired employee as well as compensatory damages for the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
In addition, the agency is asking the district court to order an injunction against further sexual harassment and to insist the company start training programs for employees.
It also asks for a jury trial.