TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) announced on Thursday, June 13 that a Beach Haven restaurant has agreed to make $20,000 settlement payments to resolve an employee complaint of workplace sexual harassment.
Playa Bowls, an eatery located in Beach Haven, paid $20,000 to a 16-year-old girl who alleged she was the victim of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other sexually harassing behavior by her supervisor. The Division is withholding the girl’s name because she is a minor.
According to a complaint filed by the girl’s mother (on behalf of her minor daughter), the teenager claimed that her supervisor inappropriately touched her back and arms on multiple occasions and also asked one of her co-workers if the complainant would have sex with him.
“In any workplace setting, people have a right to do the jobs they were hired to do without being subjected to verbal abuse, solicitations for sex, inappropriate touching, and other harassing conduct,” said Attorney General Grewal. “These cases should serve as a reminder to employers throughout the State that we take this issue seriously, and will hold accountable any employer who engages in, or tolerates, such harassment.”
The 16-year-old girl was hired as a server in August 2018. In her complaint, the girl said she was not only the target of pervasive sexual harassment, but that she also witnessed such harassment aimed at others.
According to the complaint, her supervisor consistently made inappropriate sexual comments about the body parts of female employees. The girl also alleged that she witnessed her supervisor pushing another female co-worker’s head down toward his genitals. Playa Bowls denied the allegations in full.
“Studies have shown that sexual harassment is pervasive in the restaurant industry,” said DCR Director Rachel Wainer Apter. “These settlements should encourage all restaurant owners to make clear to all employees and managers that sexual harassment will not be tolerated, to develop anti-sexual-harassment policies and procedures for employees to follow if they need to file complaints, and to provide training to managers and staff.”