La Pantera Rosa and Calua Grill Owners/Managers Abused Waitresses, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA – In a sexual harassment lawsuit filed today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged that the owners of three popular Atlanta-area nightclubs violated federal law by subjecting waitresses to a pattern of sexual harassment by two of the owner / managers.
According to the EEOC’s suit against Nunez, Inc., which owns and operates La Pantera Rosa (“The Pink Panther”) in Duluth, La Pantera Rosa Sports Bar and Grill in Marietta and Calua Grill in Tucker, five women were subjected to repeated acts of sexual harassment by two brothers, who are part owners and managers. The brothers’ harassment included a daily barrage of lewd sexual comments, gestures, physical touching and sexual acts.
The waitresses said that the sexual harassment began shortly after they started working at La Pantera Rosa or the Calua Grill. (Waitresses typically “floated” between clubs.) Each waitress described how the sexual harassment, which occurred daily, began as lewd comments and gestures but quickly escalated to physical touching. The verbal harassment included the owners / managers asking for sex, offering to pay for sex, and describing how they would have sex with them.
The EEOC said the brothers threatened to fire several waitresses if they did not perform the erotic dance “Como se Mata el Gusano” (How to Kill the Worm). The brothers demanded that the waitresses dance as if they were making love while co-workers and club customers watched. The brothers also forced the waitresses to perform sexual acts on them, the EEOC charged. Two of the women were forced to perform a sexual act on the owners / managers, one at a time, while the other watched, the agency found.
Further, the harassment later escalated to threats of termination if the waitresses would not perform sexual acts for the brothers. The women were then forced to resign when they could no longer tolerate the abuse.
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The federal agency seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the waitresses, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such harassment in the future.
“This case involves charges of severe sexual harassment where women were subjected to humiliating and degrading behavior,” said Bernice Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.
Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, said, “All sexual harassment is cruel and unacceptable, but these instances were so outrageous, they demand stern and vigorous action to correct them. These women felt compelled to do what they did in order to keep their jobs.”