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Fast-food chain settles teen workers' sexual harassment claims

Panda Express is one of the country's best known Chinese fast-food restaurants. Even though the California-based company operates over 1,500 restaurants, they are responsible for maintaining a welcoming, safe work environment for all employees.

Not long ago, Panda Express settled with three teenage employees who worked at a restaurant in Hawaii based on allegations of sexual harassment. According to the female employees, a male supervisor made lewd comments and unwanted sexual advances. When one of the employees reported the supervisor, her hours were cut dramatically. Eventually, she was forced out of her job.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handled the suit and was able to settle with the company for a total of $150,000. In addition to the financial settlement, the specific restaurant location where the harassment and effective wrongful termination occurred will have to train supervisors and employees about effectively handling sexual harassment claims.

In this case, it appeared as though officials from Panda Express were relatively cooperative with the EEOC. A spokesperson reiterated the company's dedication to protecting the needs of all employees when responding to the news of the settlement.

Unfortunately, every employer accused of sexual harassment isn't as willing to work with employment law officials as Panda Express. Oftentimes when an employee brings forth sexual harassment and wrongful termination claims, his or her employer will work tirelessly to fight accusations.

In accordance with state and federal employment law, employers are responsible for investigating and responding to claims of sexual harassment effectively. No employee should feel as though they have to quit a job as the result of unfair treatment at work.

Source: The Associated Press, "Panda Express to pay $150K to settle federal sexual harassment claims at Kauai restaurant," May 29, 2013

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