Sparks Steak House, an upscale restaurant in New York City, allegedly violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment for male employees, including physical and verbal sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charged in a lawsuit it filed today. According to the EEOC’s suit, male managers and workers at Sparks subjected male employees to ongoing abuse. The misconduct allegedly included groping their buttocks, attempting to touch their genitals and rubbing their bodies into the employees while at work. The managers and co-workers also allegedly made numerous crude, obscene comments. The lawsuit against the steakhouse also charged that an employee who complained about the harassment was retaliated against by getting less desirable assignments and was ultimately terminated. All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. The EEOC filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (civil number 09 CV 10601) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court with the steakhouse.
“The managers’ and employees’ offensive conduct at Sparks has absolutely no place in any working environment,” said Charles F. Coleman, Jr., a trial attorney in the EEOC's New York District Office. “When employees spoke out against the abuse, their pleas were either ignored or resulted in punishment. With this suit, the EEOC is sending the message that this type of behavior is illegal and will not be tolerated.”