Fast food workers endured multiple types of harassment, lawsuits allege

A Twin Cities fast food operator is facing a pair of federal lawsuits alleging that employees faced racist taunts and sexual harassment and that managers discriminated against a disabled worker.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday filed the litigation against R&G Endeavors, Inc. which operates a Culver's restaurant in Cottage Grove.

The government alleges that for nearly five years, Culver's staff, including managers, belittled, frequently shouted at, and unfairly disciplined an employee because of his disability, which is not specified in the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the franchisee “tolerated the use of” disability-related slurs, and despite his six years of service, paid the worker at a rate that is “among the lowest of any employee at the restaurant.”

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In a related lawsuit, the EEOC suit alleges that male employees subjected female coworkers as young as 14 to unwanted touching, “called them sexual pet names,” and pressured them for sex.

According to the same complaint, at least two Culver’s managers referred to an employee who is Black and gay as the restaurant’s “adopted African child.” Other employees allegedly made crude jokes about his sexual orientation and directed anti-gay and anti-Black slurs at him, which led him to quit.

Both lawsuits seek back pay and punitive damages.

Reached by phone, R&G Endeavors CEO Ben Gathje declined to comment to MPR News citing the pending litigation.