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Posted On: April 11, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Cracker Barrel Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC for $255,000

Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Inc. will pay $255,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit which was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged Cracker Barrel allowed its general manager, managers, and other male employees to subject a class of women at its Cedar Bluff, Tenn., location to sexual harassment and retaliated. According to the EEOC the general managers, other managers and male employees made repeated and unwanted sexual jokes, and lewd remarks. The women complained to the managers and Cracker Barrel's 800 number complaint line but the company failed to take action to stop the harassment, according to the EEOC. As a result of complaining about the sexual harassment, the managers moved the complaining women to areas of the restaurant where tips were low in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.

Part of the settlement requires the company to conduct annual training on sexual harassment and retaliation for all employees at the restaurant for three years. Cracker Barrel must also maintain and report complaints of harassment received for three years and post its sexual harassment policy, including its 800 hotline number for reporting such claims according to the Tennessean.com

Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie Davis said the restaurant chain decided to settle the situation to maintain a good working relationship with the EEOC.

"Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and the EEOC share the same goal in this matter: a workplace that is free of harassment," Davis said

Under federal law (Title VII), retaliation occurs when an employee is fired or has his/her terms and conditions of work changed as a result of making a formal complaint of discrimination. In this case moving the women to areas of the restaurant where tips were low was a change of the working condition.

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