EEOC v. Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Carl's Jr. Restaurant

No. CV-05-01978 FCD PAW (E.D. Ca. Dec. 13, 2005)

The San Francisco District Office filed this Title VII case alleging that Carl Karcher Enterprises (CKE), a fast food conglomerate with headquarters in Carpinteria, California, subjected charging party (a black female) and other restaurant staff members (some of them minors) at its Elk Grove, California, Carl's, Jr. restaurant, to a hostile work environment based on race (nonwhite) and discharged charging party in retaliation for complaining about the harassment. Charging party (starting at age 18) worked for defendant as a cashier and then as a shift leader for about 1« years, in two stints between August 2000 and July 2002, when defendant terminated her. During both periods of her employment, a male shift leader, subjected charging party and other nonwhites to frequent racial comments. He used the "N" word, bragged about his skinhead activities, stated that he believed that whites were the superior race, flashed white power signs, bragged about having a Confederate flag hanging outside his home, displayed his tattoos (a swastika, "honky," and some White Power gang symbols), and announced that he wanted to put a tattoo on his forehead depicting a black lynching victim. In April 2002, charging party reported the shift leader to the restaurant's Assistant Manager, who said he was aware of the shift leader's attitude and admitted he was a bit of a racist himself. On July 16, 2002, charging party gave the Assistant Manager a letter signed by eight employees complaining about shift leader's conduct. She met with the District Manager about the matter 3 days later. He promised to investigate shift leader's actions, but the investigation consisting solely of interviews with managers and the shift leader exonerated the shift leader. Defendant suspended charging party on July 27 and fired her on July 30, ostensibly for violating its cash handling and food preparation rules. San Francisco claimed that other employees who violated those rules were not disciplined. Under the 2-year consent decree resolving this case, CKE will pay $255,000 in monetary relief, consisting of $105,000 to charging party ($100,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in backpay) and $150,000 into a Settlement Fund, to be distributed as compensatory damages to eligible claimants determined by EEOC. Charging party may receive an additional payment from the Settlement Fund. CKE will take the following steps at all restaurants within District 22 (which includes Elk Grove and eight other restaurants): (1) distribute its EEO and harassment policies and procedures to all current employees within 30 days of entry of the decree and to new employees upon hire; (2) post its EEO complaint policy prominently at each location; (3) provide antiharassment training to all current and new management and supervisory employees.

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