Burger King worker reports manager sexually harassing her — and gets fired, feds say

Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Burger King employee faced unwelcome groping and vulgar comments from her male manager on a weekly basis — and was fired after repeatedly reporting it, federal officials said.

The company running the Burger King in Murphy, North Carolina, is accused of allowing the abuse to continue against the pregnant female worker. Now it will pay to settle a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced on Jan. 19.

“The harassment was severe and pervasive,” court documents state. “It altered the terms and conditions of (her) employment and created an abusive work environment.”

The Burger King franchise, North Georgia Foods Inc., will pay $60,000 to settle the lawsuit accusing the company of sexual harassment, retaliation and pregnancy discrimination, the EEOC said in a news release.

“The outcome of this case demonstrates that employers who ignore complaints of sex-based harassment in the workplace or retaliate against employees for asserting their rights under Title VII (of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) will be held accountable,” EEOC Regional Attorney Melinda C. Dugas said in a statement.

McClatchy News contacted North Georgia Foods and Burger King for comment on Jan. 20 and didn’t immediately receive a response.

Burger King manager allowed ‘the opportunity to prey upon’ the worker

After the employeewas hired to work at Burger King in Murphy in August 2018, the environment became “hostile” for her, according to a complaint.

A male assistant manager began harassing her with “vulgar sexual comments, threatening behavior” and “unwelcome groping and touching,” the complaint says. Some of the unwanted sexual contact would happen in isolated areas of the restaurant, according to the complaint.

This manager was regularly scheduled to work with the woman and was allowed “the opportunity to prey upon” her, the complaint states.

He warned the woman that if she reported him to management, she’d get fired, the complaint says. He is also accused of threatening to find her home address on the company’s computer.

The worker complained several times to a female assistant manager about the sexual harassment, but no action was taken and it continued, according to the complaint.

Employee is taken off the schedule after complaints

Burger King is accused of retaliating against and firing the worker after she reported the harassment. The restaurant removed her from its schedule in June 2019, according to the complaint.

The next month, she filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and gave birth, the complaint says.

After the woman’s firing, a general manager told other workers she was on pregnancy-related leave when she didn’t show up to work instead of revealing she was actually fired, according to the complaint.

By September 2019, the woman received medical clearance and tried returning to work at Burger King, but her texts to the general manager were ignored, according to the complaint.

The restaurant’s “actions of discharging (her) by removing her from the work schedule are discriminatory and motivated by her pregnancy,” the complaint states.

As part of the lawsuit settlement, North Georgia Foods agreed to have a phone number posted for employees to report harassment, revise anti-discrimination policies and train workers on how to report discrimination complaints and on Title VII, the EEOC said.

North Georgia Foods is based in Georgia and runs several Burger King locations.

Murphy is 110 miles southwest of Asheville.

Woman reports co-worker exposing himself to her — and NC company fires her, feds say

Boutique worker fired over fears she wouldn’t be reliable after giving birth, feds say

Former NBC reporter says she was fired after complaining of harassment. Now she sues

Walgreens manager refused to let pregnant worker leave, feds say. Then she miscarried