Señor Frog's, a chain of Mexican restaurants associated with party-heavy tourist areas, is being sued by a group of nine claimants who say that they were subjected to flagrant and repeated harassment and discrimination. According to the claimants, harassment and discriminatory practices occurred at the highest levels of the company. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filing accused the restaurant owner and top executives of encouraging and even actively participating in harassment and assaults.
According to the complaint filed by the EEOC, during the time period from June 2007 to December 2008, at least nine employees of the Waikiki Señor Frog's restaurant were verbally and physically harassed.
The young women involved in the lawsuit were all in their teens or twenties at the time that the alleged harassment occurred. The complaint alleges that management would encourage underage employees to drink with them, and that they would also imply that they were getting the women drunk in order to have sex with them.
Managers at the Señor Frog's branch were also accused of making demands for body shots to be served using the bodies of female bartenders or customers. Some of these managers also are accused of having sex with customers during their shift, in front of female employees working under them.
Verbal harassment accusations were extensive, and included allegations that the restaurant's owner told one employee that the way she moved in a skirt caused him to become aroused. Sexual advances and demands for sexual intercourse were frequent according to the complaint.
In addition to harassing employees, the EEOC alleges that Señor Frog's subjected them to a continuing pattern of employment discrimination at all levels of hiring and promotion. Male bartenders were promoted into better positions with better hours even though more qualified female bartenders were being passed up, the complaint indicates.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made the accusations against Señor Frog's earlier in November, stating that the extent of the harassment, as well as the high status of the harassers in the company, was what made them take the case.
Ordinarily, in a case where the harassment went as far as the restaurant owner and restaurant group, the EEOC would file the complaint against the parent company as well as the individual Hawaii unit of Señor Frog's. However, because the headquarters for the parent company of Señor Frog's is located in Mexico, the EEOC has no jurisdiction and will not be able to sue the parent company in United States courts.
The harassment and discrimination experienced by the employees at Señor Frog's is prohibited conduct according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This portion of the law made it a civil offense to discriminate against employees or create a hostile workplace environment through workplace harassment. The EEOC is seeking punitive damages, lost wages, compensatory damages, and front pay for the women affected by the alleged harassment and discrimination.