Panda Express settles Kauai sex harassment lawsuit

Panda Express to pay $150K to settle federal sexual harassment claims at Kauai restaurant

Associated Press

KAPAA, Hawaii (AP) -- A Chinese fast-food chain is paying $150,000 to settle a federal lawsuit claiming sexual harassment at a Kauai restaurant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday.

Panda Express is settling a lawsuit alleging a male supervisor at the Kapaa restaurant sexually harassed three female employees who were 17 to 19 years old at the time. The alleged harassment occurred between 2007 and 2009, the EEOC said.

The women were subjected to "unwelcome physical and verbal sexual conduct that was sufficiently severe and pervasive to adversely affect the terms and conditions of the employment and create a hostile work environment," the lawsuit filed in September claimed.

One teen who reported the harassment had her hours cut and was forced to resign, the commission said, and another teen quit to avoid verbal obscenities and sexual advances.

The settlement also includes a two-year consent decree that requires Panda Express to implement anti-harassment measures including annual sexual harassment training for all employees in Kapaa and for all general managers in the state.

The company strives to provide a safe and empowering environment for all associates, said Thien Ho, a spokeswoman for Rosemead, Calif.-based Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.

"In today's settlement with the EEOC, we reconfirm our shared mission with the EEOC to ensure that our associates continue to be protected and cared for," she said in a statement. "We appreciate the partnership of all those involved in this isolated incident to find resolution with dignity and common value in mind."

The company manages and owns nearly 1,600 restaurants in 42 states.

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