Feds Sue Diner Over Cop’s Harassment of Waitresses

Friday, July 8th, 2011

So we have a cop with an (alleged) history of harassing waitresses at a diner her frequents. She files a harassment complaint, and the feds get involved . . . to sue the diner that employees the waitresses for failing to prevent the harassment.

Maybe it’s too much to expect one DOJ agency to know what another DOJ agency is doing. But wouldn’t it make a hell of a lot more sense to go after the police department that continues to employ a cop who (allegedly) habitually sexually harasses women? Isn’t there a good chance that he’s also harassing other women who don’t work at the diner, a problem that won’t be resolved with this lawsuit? (The EEOC filed this suit. I presume a suit against the sheriff’s department would be handled by the civil rights division.)

The fact that the diner fired the waitress after she filed her complaint doesn’t reflect particularly well on the management. And the article doesn’t get into much detail about what if anything the diner did to address the problem. I’d like to think that if I were the owner, I’d have filed a complaint and banned the cop from my diner.

But it’s one thing to throw out or ban your average customer. It takes some gumption to toss a cop. Cops have the power to make your life pretty damned miserable. They tend to stick together. And how often do we see misbehaving cops escape any sort of discipline? So yeah. The diner owner may lack chivalry. But unless he was joining along in the harassment, it seems a bit much to hold him liable for not single-handedly standing up to the local law enforcement establishment. In fact, in that the feds aren’t investigating the sheriff’s department, they’re sorta’ holding the diner’s owner to a higher standard than they hold themselves, no?

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

13 Responses to “Feds Sue Diner Over Cop’s Harassment of Waitresses”

  1. #1 |  croaker | 

    And what would have happened if the owner did ban the cop? 50% chance the cop would have returned with all his SWAT buddies to shoot up the diner, “finding” some weed in kitchen.

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    I’m sure Commodore will get some kind of community service award for reaching out to the waitresses.

  3. #3 |  C.A. | 

    I have only a passing understanding of employment law, but if the waitress complained to the restaurant owner that a customer was harassing her, and she gets fired because the restaurant would rather keep the abusive customer, then she might have a claim as long as she can tie it to race, sex, etc. discrimination. My guess (without reading the article; hey, it’s late) is that the officer’s harassment was sexual in nature. He probably didn’t harass the male waiters. So she believes the restaurant fired her because she was a woman complaining about sexual harassment by a customer, which the diner valued more than its employee.

    Not trying to justify the suit, but the EEOC wouldn’t really be able to do much about the customer. Certainly, the civil rights section of the DOJ might take an interest in his activities. But it would be hard to say he was acting “under color of law” when he was just on a lunch break or whatever.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

  4. #4 |  Kelly James | 

    Never thought I’d say it but I miss the good ol’ days of Bush and “family” values. “Family” values are a hell of a lot better than no values at all.

  5. #5 |  Cornellian | 

    C.A. describes a reprisal complaint, that is a complaint that some action was taken against you (firing) because you engaged in activity protected by the statute (complaining that the cop is sexually harassing you). According to the article, the EEOC is indeed alleging the firing was a reprisal.

  6. #6 |  Bünzli | 

    “In fact, in that the feds aren’t investigating the sheriff’s department, they’re sorta’ holding the diner’s owner to a higher standard than they hold themselves, no?”

    Isn’t that SOP for law enforcement?

  7. #7 |  Chuchundra | 

    I’m not sure what the Feds should be investigating the Sheriff’s department for. Extreme douchbaggery by one of their deputies? Even if that was against the law, I’m pretty sure that it’s not in the DOJ’s jurisdiction.

    On the other hand, firing an employee for filing a sexual harassment action is quite clearly against the law and is well within the EEOC’s mandate.

  8. #8 |  yonemoto | 

    This is basically the messed up part about EOC law. The employer is required to protect the employee from clients. On the other hand, the employer is often not allowed to disallow clients for fear of breaking civil rights laws, eg.

  9. #9 |  Bill | 

    I simply can’t believe that we’ve come to this point. If this waitress doesn’t like or can’t handle some male attention, she should find a new line of work where she wouldn’t have to deal with people. The customers are the bread and butter of this establishment, and I know I wouldn’t want my workers making my customers, cops or civilians, unhappy by rejecting their attention. If she doesn’t like getting attention from male customers, she should open her own restaurant, then we’d see how she’d like it when workers whine about paying customers “harassing” them when it is HER MONEY on the line!

  10. #10 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #9: Bill, did you actually read the story? I’m a retired escort and stripper who is quite proficient at keeping sexually aggressive men at bay; I used to do bachelor parties all by myself. And as my regular readers know, I frequently chide grown women for being little whiners who run to Nanny rather than just telling men to take a flying leap, and I’m against victim-defined sexual harassment standards.

    Having established that, I must say that if you define a COP repeatedly asking when one is going to “bang” with him, following one around trying to snap pictures of one’s tits and otherwise acting like a cocaine-addled baboon as “male attention”, you need to have your head examined and I honestly wonder if you have ever actually talked to any women, ever. This is not a man we’re talking about, it’s a COP. A uniformed bully who would as soon rape a woman as look at her if he thought he could get away with it. I have been described as “hard as nails”, and I don’t mind telling you that creep would intimidate the hell out of me.

    Is it right for the feds to hold the diner responsible? Obviously not, and the cop should be criminally prosecuted under intimidation laws (because as soon as that badge is on display that’s what it is). But if you want to characterize this as mere female whining, you need to have your head examined and I pity your wife, girlfriend or daughter.

  11. #11 |  JS | 

    Even the department of justice is scared of the local cops. How fucked up is that?

  12. #12 |  Marc | 

    So they fired her over making a complaint? Fuck them.

  13. #13 |  John David Galt | 

    I’d love it if the diner filed a successful complaint, or lawsuit, against the cop. (Or even just banned him, perhaps as part of a consent decree that gets EEOC off their back. If EEOC were interested in fairness they should ask this and the diner should agree to it.) But that’s more guts than one can really expect the boss to have.

    I would expect, and could understand, if the boss had instead told the waitress, “Sorry, you’re out of luck (or go sue them yourself), because we don’t dare get the police mad at us by banning this creep.”

    But they didn’t do either of those things: they fired her, which means they blamed her for the problem (or at least, if I were the boss at the next place she applies for a job, I would so interpret the firing). Therefore, it seems to me she is both morally and legally right to drag the boss in front of a judge or EEOC. Even a boss who is being intimidated by corrupt cops ought to be more loyal to his workers than that.