La Porte restaurant charged with sex discrimination

Indianapolis – The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s (ICRC) Deputy Director Akia Haynes announced today there is probable cause to believe that an employee of Colima Restaurant in La Porte, Indiana was subjected to gender-based harassment over the course of several years.

An investigation stemming from the May 7, 2012 Complaint found that the Complainant was subjected to unwanted and explicit comments throughout the duration of her employment with Respondent. Witness testimony substantiates that the Complaining party was subjected to offensive and inappropriate comments, while male employees were treated more favorably.

“The issue before the Commission is whether the alleging party was subjected to unlawful harassment based on her sex,” said Haynes. “Through our initial investigation, there is reason to believe this was the case. A public hearing before the Commission is necessary to determine whether a violation of the Indiana Civil Rights Law, did in fact, occur.”

The Complaining party alleges that she spoke with two owners of the family-owned restaurant about the harassment; however, no corrective action was taken. While the Respondent currently has an employee handbook, no such handbook existed at the time relevant to the Complaint. As such, there were no clear policies or procedures established at the time of the incidents to report harassment.

In order to prevail, Complainant must show that (1) she experienced offensive comments or actions in the workplace; (2) the comments or actions were severe or pervasive; (3) Complainant made it known that the comments/actions were unwelcome; and (4) Respondent failed to take corrective action to address the hostile work environment.

A finding of probable cause does not resolve a Civil Rights Complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Laws have been violated. Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.