Honolulu Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

HAWAII – Square Barrels, a restaurant in Honolulu, and its human resources firm, ALTRES, Inc., operating as SimplicityHR, have agreed to pay $115,000 and implement additional measures to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The federal agency announced this settlement, which includes several commitments to prevent future incidents.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit against Aged Artisans LLC and Surfeit Group LLC, doing business as Square Barrels, alleging that the company’s co-owner sexually harassed gay employees.

According to the complaint, the co-owner exposed his genitals, solicited oral sex, and made inappropriate sexual comments related to the male employees’ sexual orientation. Despite these reports, the company and its HR firm failed to conduct a proper investigation, allowing the harassment to continue.

These actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation. The EEOC attempted to resolve the case through a voluntary conciliation process before bringing it to the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (Case No.: 1:23-cv-00208-SOM-WRP).

In addition to the $115,000 payment, Aged Artisans/Surfeit Group and ALTRES have agreed to implement several measures to address and prevent workplace discrimination. These measures include:

  • Equal Opportunity Oversight: Ensure compliance with Title VII through continuous monitoring of equal employment opportunity policies.
  • Policy Review and Update: Evaluate and update company policies to effectively address discrimination and harassment.
  • Corrective Action Mechanisms: Establish procedures for immediate corrective action in cases of discrimination.
  • Online Complaint Process: Create an accessible system for filing discrimination and harassment complaints.
  • Anti-Discrimination Training: Provide regular training to employees on preventing discrimination and harassment.

The companies will also monitor and track compliance with Title VII and reports of discrimination and harassment. This includes conducting periodic audits of complaints and investigations and maintaining appropriate records. The consent decree will be under court jurisdiction for three years, and the EEOC will oversee its compliance.

Anna Park, EEOC regional attorney for the Los Angeles District, stated, “The EEOC continues to see sexual harassment in the restaurant and hospitality industries, including against members of the LGBTQI+ community. Employers should take note of the measures in this decree and consider implementing similar steps to prevent and address harassment. We are encouraged by the respondents’ good faith efforts to cooperate and reach an early resolution.

The settlement reached by Square Barrels and ALTRES underscores the importance of taking proactive steps to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment. Companies must implement robust policies and clear procedures to protect their employees and ensure a safe and respectful work environment.

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