Franchise Owner’s Pervasive Culture of Harassment Spanned Across Three States, Federal Agency Charges
LAS VEGAS – AMTCR, Inc., AMTCR Nevada, Inc., and AMTCR California, LLC violated federal law by allowing a class of male and female workers to be subjected to egregious sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit. Headquartered in Kingman, Ariz., AMTCR is a franchise owner currently operating approximately 22 McDonald’s fast food restaurants in Nevada, Arizona and California.
According to the lawsuit, the federal agency alleges that since at least 2017, AMTCR was aware of, perpetuated, and tolerated sexual harassment by supervisors, managers, and coworkers at various McDonald’s restaurants throughout the tri-state area. The harassment, which was mainly focused on young, teenage employees, included frequent unwanted groping and touching, offensive comments and gestures regarding male genitalia, unwelcome sexual advances, sexual ridicule, intimidation, and insults. The EEOC contends that AMTCR failed to adequately respond to multiple complaints of sexual harassment over a period of time, instead ignoring and downplaying these complaints. Due to the increasingly heavy emotional and mental toll from the ongoing sexual harassment, as well as the franchise owner’s failure to address the conduct, many workers eventually found the working conditions so intolerable that they had no choice but to quit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed its suit against the company in U.S. District Court for Nevada (EEOC v. AMTCR, Inc., et. al., Case No: 2:21-cv-01808), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC’s suit seeks back wages, out of pocket costs, and compensatory and punitive damages for a class of employees, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further sexual harassment by the company.
“Young workers are particularly vulnerable to harassment in the workplace as they are more likely to be unaware of their rights and can be taken advantage by their employer,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, whose jurisdiction includes Las Vegas. “Ensuring workers’ rights to a safe workplace free of discrimination and harassment, especially vulnerable workers who are more likely to be exploited by an employer, is a top priority for the Commission.”
“It is the employer’s responsibility to take all reports of harassment seriously, promptly investigate those complaints, and provide effective remedial action to end harassment in the workplace,” added Michael Mendoza, director of EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office. “Young workers are more vulnerable to harassment or discrimination, and the EEOC will hold employers accountable for violations of the law.”
Protecting young vulnerable workers against severe or egregious sexual harassment and retaliation are national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
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.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.gov)