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  • Texas Restaurant Owner Accused of Sexual Harassment

    In some cases, it’s tough to know where the line is for sexual harassment. While the delineation can be difficult in cases of one-off jokes, pictures, or even date requests, there are a multitude of behaviors that clearly qualify as sexual harassment. Any sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County could tell you that groping coworkers, repeatedly making lewd comments to them, requesting sexual favors, and exposing oneself are all clear-cut cases of sexual harassment.

    Unfortunately for two female bartenders in Montrose, Texas, they were subjected to not one or two, but all of these actions. To make matters worse, this highly unacceptable behavior was perpetrated by the supervisor of these two young ladies. Topping it all off is that upon complaining about the sexual harassment, these two ladies claimed to have been retaliated against, another violation of the law.

    All of these events took place at the Berryhill Baja Grill, a Mexican flavored eatery in Texas. The owner, and accused, of the franchise is Phillip Wattel. The suit against him alleges that between 2006 and 2008, Wattel continually displayed the aforementioned unacceptable behavior, harassing bartenders Laura Baatz and Kimberly Kulig. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken up the case of the two women, additionally claiming that Wattel retaliated against them when they refused his advances and complained of his behavior.

    According to the suit, Kulig and Baatz informed not only a store manager, and corporate human resources, but to Wattel himself as well. Wattel responded to this by giving Kulig a less than desirable work schedule, with harassment becoming so severe that she was forced to step down from her position. The two girls are now demanding back pay and punitive damages for the harassment they faced.

    While not implicated in the case, Berryhill CEO, Jeff Anon, says he’ll be following the case closely, hoping for a swift and just resolution to the case. In response to the case, Anon has expressed his, “hope that this franchise will expeditiously respond…given the troublesome nature of the claims against that franchise.” Wattel, owner of 3 different Berryhill franchise locations, claims he’s been supervising the restaurants for over 9 years and has never been the recipient of a sexual harassment lawsuit, denying the charges levied against him.

    Considering he’s up against the EEOC, Wattel would be best served hiring a sexual harassment lawyer to fight his case. Whether you’re the victim or perpetrator, in Texas or in California, a lawyer can be a powerful ally. For Southern California residents, the value of a sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County shouldn’t be underestimated. A sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County will be able to analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the case in order to build a viable offense or defense.