- Two former Wendy’s employees are suing a franchisee of the fast-food chain whose manager allegedly exposed his naked body to employees and repeatedly groped and slapped some on the buttocks, reports the Business Insider.
- The suit also claims the manager bullied Mexican workers and threatened to deport them if they complained about their treatment.
- Business Insider says the suit holds the Suwanee, GA-based franchisee liable for not having adequate policies and procedures to handle and investigate complaints.
If the franchisee didn’t follow up on the complaints of groping, flashing and slapping, it broke the law. Employers are required by law to investigate sexual assault and harassment claims, regardless of the circumstances.
An investigation doesn’t mean an alleged perpetrator is guilty. Instead, it allows HR to gather facts in the case and interview and take statements from witnesses.
The allegations of bullying behavior, if true, are equally troubling. The franchisee could also be charged with discrimination for singling out and bullying workers based on their race, gender, ethnicity or disability. The franchisee should have had policies and procedures for handling complaints. If it had, it would have followed up on the complaints and possibly avoided a lawsuit.
In some cases, a culture of intimidation may create a fear of retaliation, rendering such policies less effective. Creating safe harbors for employee reporting can go a long way toward correcting violations.