Cheesecake Factory Settles Suit over "Severe" Same Sex Harassment

November 11, 2009 ( – National restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory, Inc. has agreed to pay $345,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.

The EEOC charged that six male employees were subjected to repeated sexual harassment at the company’s Chandler Mall location in Phoenix, and that the company knew about and tolerated the assaults by male kitchen staffers. However, according to the agency, the evidence overwhelmingly showed that the men suffered what it called “severe” sexually abusive behavior, and that managers even witnessed employees dragging their victims kicking and screaming into the refrigerator.

Complaints to virtually every manager at the restaurant were made, the announcement said, but they never acted on the claims. Victims said they felt helpless, and one finally called the police.

“Behind the lavish décor that the company boasts on its Web site was a horribly dysfunctional workplace where male workers lived in fear,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, in the announcement.

The EEOC announcement is here .