Employees at two IHOP restaurants in Glen Carbon and Alton are suing the franchises after they say they were sexually harassed, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.
More than 11 female IHOP employees in Glen Carbon said they were subjected to “unlawful harassment based on sex including but not limited to offensive sexual touching, comments and gestures.” The suit also says one male employee at the Alton IHOP was subjected to “unwelcome sexual propositions, groping and comments by the restaurant’s general manager.”
The owner of the franchises could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.
The women said between 2011 and 2013, the general manager and two cooks at the restaurant made “severe and pervasive” sexual comments to the women, creating a hostile and abusive work environment, according to the lawsuit. The owner failed to investigate or correct the behavior, the suit alleges.
Two of the female employees resigned from their job because of the “intolerable” work environment, the lawsuit says.
One of the women who resigned, who was a minor at the time of the alleged harassment, said the highest ranking manager would tell her she was sexy, and that her pants looked good. She was 16 at the time, and it was her first job.
The manager sent the minor sexually provocative messages, according to the lawsuit, saying, “Don’t make me get violent babe, and take what I want.” He repeatedly asked her to have sex with him, and he would frequently grab her buttocks. He once rubbed up against her in a sexual manner in the IHOP parking lot as well, the lawsuit says.
Shortly before the girl resigned, the manager put a steak knife to her throat after she tried to push him away from her when he was smelling her hair, the lawsuit alleges. He allegedly told her he didn’t like to be told no.
Two cooks asked multiple women to have sex with them, touched their buttocks and on one occasion, one of the cooks tried to stick his hands down a woman’s pants, the suit says.
Eleven women shared their stories of alleged harassment in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit asks for the managers and owner of the two restaurants, who are all related, to implement and enforce policies to get rid of any harmful or sexist behavior at the restaurant. It also asks for monetary relief for the women involved in the lawsuit to “eradicate the effects of their unlawful employment policies and practices.”