The firing of a transgender employee at a Westchester Applebee’s over alleged sexual harassment has led to a $100,000 settlement following a lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A Title VII lawsuit was filed by the EEOC last year against Apple Metro Inc., which operates Applebee’s in Westchester, following the alleged incident, which happened to an employee in Hawthorne.
Staff members allegedly made inappropriate comments about the employee’s transgender status, referring to her with male names and pronouns and making repeated offensive comments regarding her genitals. When the employee complained about the alleged harassment to management, she was subsequently fired from her position, according to the EEOC complaint.
“It is far better for all involved when employers take reports of harassment seriously and address problematic conduct before it becomes a lawsuit,” Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, said in a statement. “Retaliating against the employee who reported the problem is illegal, and the EEOC takes such violations quite seriously.”
Under the settlement, the company will pay $100,000 in lost wages and damages to the victim. It also requires Apple Metro to “revise and redistribute their anti-harassment policies and provide training to all employees at the Hawthorne restaurant and to individuals at Apple-Metro, Inc. who manage the company’s other restaurants, which are located in New York City and Westchester and Rockland Counties.”
Additionally, any complaints of sex-based discrimination or retaliation made by employees of the Hawthorne Applebee’s will be reported to the EEOC.
Kirsten Peters, an EEOC trial attorney, added, “Sex-based harassment – against anyone – is unlawful, and so is retaliation for complaining about it. An employer is only making a bad situation worse when it punishes someone for standing up for her rights.”
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