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Harrassment Kapa‘a Panda Express, supervisor sued for sexual harassment

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Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 12:30 am

KAPA‘A — A federal lawsuit claims teenage employees working at a Panda Express in Kapa‘a were groped and demeaned.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit alleges a male supervisor with the Chinese fast-food subjected a group of female employees to sexual harassment. The accuser and the supervisor are no longer with the restaurant.

The U.S. EEOC allege the charges in a lawsuit filed Sept. 27 in Honolulu. According to the complaint, the supervisor sexually abused at least three female teenagers starting in 2008 and likely several more.

At least one of the teen workers was physically groped and subjected to lewd language and obscene sexual propositions repeatedly, the EEOC said in a news release.

“This case highlights a serious problem we have noticed in the restaurant industry,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Hawai’i in its jurisdiction. “Here we have a company that failed to stop repeated advances toward teen workers.”

“None of these young ladies had a chance against those odds,” Park added. “The EEOC is committed to ensuring that this type of misconduct does not reoccur at this restaurant or elsewhere in the industry.”

The Kapa‘a store manager said that Panda Express is committed to a safe and empowering workplace for all associates. She referred calls about the matter to Panda Restaurant Group in Los Angeles.

“It is our company policy to not comment on pending litigation,” said Thien Ho, senior manager of corporate relations.

The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC filed the lawsuit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Upon reporting the harassment to the general manager, the EEOC said the teen’s hours were cut in retaliation, forcing her to resign. Another teen victim was also forced to quit to avoid persistent verbal obscenities and sexual advances by the same supervisor.

The EEOC’s suit seeks all available relief including lost wages, front pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages on behalf of the class of women. Substantial remedies, including policy changes and staff training, are also being sought by the EEOC in order to prevent and to appropriately address future instances of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

“Workers absolutely have the right to report sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace without suffering negative consequences or retaliation,” said Timothy Riera, local director for the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office. “Subjecting teenaged workers — who are especially vulnerable — to this kind of abuse is especially unconscionable. The EEOC is here to help when employers fail to meet their legal obligation to protect their workers.”

The EEOC’s Youth@Work website offers information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. It contains curriculum guides and videos about rights and responsibilities in the workforce.

According to the Panda Express company website, the Rosemead, Calif.-based Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. manages and owns more than 1,400 restaurants in 42 states.

© 2016 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Regular Guy Giving Just Retorts posted at 4:13 pm on Sun, Sep 30, 2012.

    Regular Guy Giving Just Retorts Posts: 941

    Eh! Well sorry is a typo & should have been ...similar story...

  • Regular Guy Giving Just Retorts posted at 2:21 pm on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Regular Guy Giving Just Retorts Posts: 941

    And if a similar sorry was recanted on their shows most all would laugh at the jokes made about the place.


    Notice I did not comment about the gal, just the place for the type of food served... no names used.

    Have an uneventful day!

  • Barry C posted at 1:01 pm on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Barry C Posts: 20

    Classless just like the other two.

  • albino posted at 8:53 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    albino Posts: 81

    So Why did it take 4 years of this until someone said anything? Four years of this going on and not one complaint until now? No one had ever said "don't work there, that guy is a perv?"

  • DDSPHON posted at 8:07 pm on Fri, Sep 28, 2012.

    DDSPHON Posts: 3

    Just awful! It must have been terrifying for the teenage girl to return to work, if she hasn't already returned to work or quit to find another job. Must have ruined their whole high school career. What happened to the supervisor must have been something personal or just too friendly to avoid. Now they're in the process of going to trial, what can about this? Two friends in the restaurant between family members and the restaurant.

  • 12rite posted at 5:32 pm on Fri, Sep 28, 2012.

    12rite Posts: 0

    It's not a funny matter. I know this guys, and where he was working until very recently. and new nothing of this incidents. I new him from middle school. but I think of my daughters and granddaughter. and that would deserve cracks !

  • Regular Guy Giving Just Retorts posted at 12:24 pm on Fri, Sep 28, 2012.

    Regular Guy Giving Just Retorts Posts: 941

    Now I wonder what really is in the spring and egg rolls... should i continue to ask for dipping sauce?

    OK Barry, we see your point, a good one... now tell it to jay Leno and David Letterman... Now what sport did he "Letter" in must be something to do with girls to Let-her-man!

  • Barry C posted at 11:31 am on Fri, Sep 28, 2012.

    Barry C Posts: 20

    Good grief. Three high school girls are demeaned and harassed, but you two think it's OK to make jokes about it? Read the kitv.com account and see if you still think this is "funny."

    On another note, one wonders if this supervisor-predator is working elsewhere on-island with another opportunity to sexually harass subordinates. If the lawsuit has been filed, it's part of the public record.

  • albino posted at 8:54 am on Fri, Sep 28, 2012.

    albino Posts: 81

    Lol! Perfect! Does that make us the island of misfit mascots?

  • wailua7 posted at 7:43 am on Fri, Sep 28, 2012.

    wailua7 Posts: 2

    When one panda touches another panda, that makes me a sad panda. "The sexual harassment panda."


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