The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on Sept. 26 after attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement were unsuccessful, according to a written statement released by the commission.
The lawsuit alleges that between 2008 and the filing of the complaint, a number of women, more than three, according to regional attorney for the commission Emanual Smith, were sexually harassed by Carl McRath, assistant manager of the restaurant, and Cedric Bailey, a cook at the restaurant.
The general manager at the restaurant, reached by The Star on Monday, declined to say whether the two men still worked there.
Only one of the women, Aretha Johnson, is named in the complaint. However, Smith said the commission is representing more than three women in the complaint. Some of them no longer work at the restaurant, he said.
The complaint alleges that McRath and Bailey either separately or together engaged in “severe and pervasive” misconduct including vulgar, sexual talk, requests for sex and touching the women sexually.
Additionally, Johnson allegedly was threatened by Bailey, who, according to the complaint, said he would “bust you in your face, your husband and your whole family” if she filed a complaint.
Johnson and the other women told McRath and Bailey that their comments and actions were unwanted and notified management, the complaint states.
“On numerous occasions Aretha Johnson and other female employees complained to Defendant’s management about the inappropriate and unwanted sexual conduct, but no action was taken and the conduct persisted,” the complaint states.
The Anniston Star’s attempts to reach Johnson, Bailey or McRath Monday were unsuccessful. It was unclear whether McRath or Bailey still live in Calhoun County.
Thomas E. Coleman owns the restaurant, along with another Dad’s Bar-B-Que. A person answering the phone at Coleman Properties, owned by Coleman, said Coleman was unavailable and that the company had no comment before hanging up.
Fewer than 10 percent of sexual harassment cases handled by the commission make their way to court, according to Smith. He said a case like this can take 18 months before reaching trial.
The lawsuit is seeking monetary compensation as well as ordering the employer to put into place policies and practices that would end the harassment.
Sexual harassment violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, where it interferes with employment or work performance or creates a hostile work environment. Claims first have to be filed with the commission. In 2010, the commission received 11,717 claims. Of those, the commission found 7 percent had reasonable cause, and nearly all of those will go to court either through the commission or with a private attorney, Smith said.
Of the other 93 percent, about 50 percent were found to be without reasonable cause, another 32 percent were closed administratively or dropped by the complainant, and 11 percent were settled.
Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.