Two Monterey Park food companies are accused of subjecting male and female workers to repeated verbal and physical sexual harassment. According to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), multiple complaints have been made since 2020.
The EEOC says Pacific Culinary Group Inc. and CB Foods Inc. failed to take corrective action after complaints emerged against the companies’ chief operating officer. The allegations include groping, other unwanted physical contact, inappropriate comments, questions over employees’ sexual activities and preferences, as well as unwelcome sexual advances.
The EEOC says when employees reported being sexually harassed, they were targeted with further harassment and discipline, including termination. The agency says the intolerable working conditions forced others to leave their jobs. The companies, which produce and distribute Asian food products, failed to reach a settlement with the EEOC, leading to a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on April 21.
Inaction creates a “chilling” effect on employees
Sexual harassment and retaliation are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Often, repeated complaints give companies the opportunity to address and correct this illegal behavior. Their failure to take appropriate remedial action in the face of such complaints discourages others from coming forward. In addition, when retaliation results against those who file complaints, it further dissuades employees from coming forward due to fear of reprisals.
The EEOC’s lawsuit against Pacific Culinary Group Inc. and CB Foods Inc seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the affected employees, along with judicial relief, to correct and prevent further discrimination.
Steps to take if you’re being sexually harassed
In many cases, the behavior ends when the person harassing you is told to stop. If the behavior continues, notifying your supervisor or company human resources representative in writing of your complaint.
If the company fails to act, consult with an experienced attorney regarding whether a discrimination claim with the EEOC or sexual harassment lawsuit is warranted.