Carrols Restaurant Group Inc., Burger King's largest franchisee, announced that its subsidiary, Carrols Corporation, has entered into an agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to resolve sexual harassment litigation that began in 1998.
The case alleged that Carrols had subjected female employees working at its locations to sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and attempted to establish a class action based on a claim of "pattern or practice" across its restaurants in 13 states.
Throughout the past 14 years, Carrols has denied all allegations while defending itself against these claims.
In 2005, the court dismissed the class or "pattern or practice" claims that the EEOC had brought on behalf of 90,000 female employees. The result of that decision and further rulings was to leave only a relative handful of individual claims to be resolved and a vindication of Carrols' longstanding written policies and procedures.
Further litigation continued over the remaining claims, and in order to avoid ongoing litigation costs, Carrols has now entered into the agreement with the EEOC which fully resolves and settles all remaining claims without any admission of wrongdoing.
Under the agreement, Carrols will make cash payments to the 89 remaining claimants in the lawsuit totaling $2.5 million, with allocations among the claimants being determined by the EEOC. Carrols agreed to continue to uphold its obligations under Title VII and continue to maintain its existing and comprehensive anti-harassment policies and procedures and training programs.
The company also agreed to make certain enhancements to its existing policies and training programs and to report on the results of its efforts to the EEOC over a two-year period. The agreement with the EEOC is subject to court approval.
"We unequivocally do not tolerate sexual harassment in our workplace and have resolved this litigation without any admission of wrongdoing after many years of intensive, costly and frustrating litigation with the EEOC. We take sexual harassment very seriously and have long had comprehensive procedures and processes in place to encourage our employees to report violations to our policies and to do so without fear of retaliation," said Daniel T. Accordino, CEO of Carrols Restaurant Group Inc.
Accordino said the company settled because it was cheaper than continued litigation with the individual claims.
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