Senor Frog’s in Hawaii settles harassment suit

HONOLULU – A shuttered Waikiki restaurant and bar has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle complaints of male managers sexually harassing 13 female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday.

La Rana Hawaii LLC, the Hawaii arm of the Mexico company that owns the Senor Frog’s chain, agreed to change its policies if it decides to reopen, the federal agency said.

The settlement resolves a complaint filed nearly two years ago accusing managers of groping female workers’ breasts and buttocks and demanding sex from them. EEOC officials accused the managers of making offensive sexual comments, with harassment occurring daily.

A settlement agreement filed Thursday in federal court in Hawaii says La Rana Hawaii LLC admits no wrongdoing. A lawyer for La Rana didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The restaurant closed in August 2012.

“Our young workers are all too often the targets of the most insidious forms of sexual harassment, which can spread like wildfire at work,” said Anna Park, a regional attorney for the EEOC in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit said managers regularly encouraged employees to drink with them even though they were underage.

Most of the alleged victims were in their teens and early 20s, including students who were working their first job. The complaint said the managers retaliated against them when they complained by giving fewer hours and shifts.

Altres Inc., a Hawaii company Senor Frogs hired to handle payroll and paperwork, previously settled with the EEOC for $150,000.

EEOC officials said La Rana would pay the settlement directly to the victims and also agreed to training and policy changes if the company reopens a restaurant.