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Dealing with sexual harassment at the Main Street level

Sexual harassment is illegal. It is against federal and state law. It is sad to think that anyone needs to be reminded of this, but it does since illegal behavior continues. Hollywood actresses make up the cadre of victims that may have brought the spotlight to bear on this issue, and it is now reportedly gaining attention from Wall Street deal makers, but the fact is that every day, on Main Streets across Texas and elsewhere, women, and men, can be targets.

Indeed, the case of a Texas-based restaurant franchise in New Mexico seems to serve as a case in point. According the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, managers and co-workers of Ojos Locos Sports Cantina in Albuquerque allegedly subjected female employees to sexual harassment and job retaliation. The agency is suing on behalf of the women seeking back wages and damages.

The case laid out by the EEOC states that the female employees endured pervasive harassment across the spectrum of conduct that violates the law, including:

  • Requests that they show more cleavage
  • Comments about their breasts and buttocks
  • Male worker comments about their own private parts
  • Unwelcome touching
  • Texted requests for sex

They did not ask for it

The Ojos Locos Sports Cantina is one that reviewers acknowledge is known not for great food or drink, but for "scantily clad waitresses." That might prompt some to suggest that women who work there have reason to expect such behavior. But harassment creates a hostile work environment, and as one EEOC attorney observed in speaking about this case, "Employers have a legal obligation to prevent and stop sexually harassing behavior immediately."

We would add that outlawed behavior also includes harassers raising fears of possible retaliation if victims reject or report unwelcome advances or comments.

If you've suffered harassment in your Main Street job, you deserve to know what your rights are, and your options for protecting them. If you think you have a case but fear retaliation, consult with an attorney.

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