Georgia Marchbanks, commission director for the Albuquerque Area Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced that the evidence indicated that there may well have been violations of the federal Civil Rights Act by letting at least one manager sexually harass the 22-year-old complaining witness and other female employees at the restaurant in April 2005, the Albuquerque Tribune reported..
The ruling opens the way for a federal lawsuit on civil rights grounds. A civil lawsuit, alleging rape and sexual harassment, has already been filed in New Mexico state court involving the incident at the Texas Land & Cattle Steakhouse.
George McFall, a lawyer for the restaurant, told the newspaper that the business did nothing wrong. Texas Land & Cattle provides sexual harassment training to all employees and has a strong grievance policy, he said. “The company thinks the EEOC investigators were erroneous,” McFall told the newspaper.
Sam Bregman, a lawyer that represents the woman, filed the civil lawsuit against the company and two managers, the news report said. Bregman’s suit alleges that two managers invited the woman to stay after work to taste a new wine the restaurant was serving. The woman went to the restroom, and when she came back, the two men were blocking her path, Bregman’s suit says. They restrained her, then raped her, according to the suit.
Both men resigned – they were not fired – from Texas Land & Cattle after the incident, McFall said.
“There were comments to my client that she needs to wear a lower cut blouse to show more cleavage,” Bregman said of the work environment. “There were constant sexual comments made by male employees to female employees, including management. There was inappropriate touching by managers of female employees. It’s just not a place a woman would want to work.”
The woman now works at an Albuquerque shelter for abused individuals and attends the University of New Mexico, Bregman said.