Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise to Pay $150,000 to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Doughnut Franchise Manager Sexually Harassed Young Female Employees, Some in Their Teens, and Retaliated Against Worker Who Resisted Advances, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK – Hillcrest Marshall, Inc., which owns multiple Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in Westchester County, N.Y., will pay $150,000 to former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Hillcrest Marshall violated federal law by subjecting female employees, some of whom were in their teens at the time, to sexual harassment by a store manager at one of its Dunkin’ Donuts locations. For example, EEOC said, the store manager talked about his genitals, tried to kiss a female worker who was 20 years old at the time, and pressured her to have sex. The manager hit her, cursed and yelled at her regularly due to being rejected by her. When she contacted the police, she was fired in retaliation for resisting his advances, EEOC said.

Sexual harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Hillcrest Marshall Inc. d/b/a/ Dunkin’ Donuts, CV 07293) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York following an investigation, and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the terms of the three-year consent decree settling the suit, Hillcrest Marshall ceased to employ the manager and agreed not to rehire him. In addition to the payment of $150,000 to the harassment victims, Hillcrest Marshall will train the managers at all of their stores of their obligations under the law, institute an effective anti-discrimination policy and complaint procedure for all of its employees, and designate a senior manager to receive all complaints of discrimination and harassment.

“Employers need to implement strong policies so victims can report sexual harassment without reprisal, and we are pleased Hillcrest Marshall has agreed to do so,” said EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry.

EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein added, “It took tremendous courage for these young women, some of whom were in their teens when they worked at Dunkin’ Donuts, to stand up to their manager. EEOC is here to protect vulnerable young workers like these women who suffered workplace harassment.”

EEOC recently updated its Youth@Work website (at https://www.eeoc.gov/youth/), which provides information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. The website also contains curriculum guides and videos for students and teachers to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce.

EEOC’s New York District Office has jurisdiction over New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and portions of New Jersey.