WOODLAND HILLS—A former cashier for the San Fernando Valley Habit Burger locations filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, July 24 for allegedly enduring acts of sexual harassment and coercion at the Encino and Woodland Hills locations.
The plaintiff alleges she was sexually harassed by a general manager and a cook at both locations, forcing her to quit in 2018. The suit outlines acts of harassment based on sex, retaliation and failure to prevent discrimination, retaliation and harassment. She’s seeking unspecified damages.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was brought onto the staff of the Encino location in May 2016 when she was 16 years old. In November 2017, the company hired a new female general manager who allegedly began flirting with the plaintiff— who was 17 at the time— and sent suggestive messages.
The suit further alleges the plaintiff was coerced by the fear of losing her job to act out sexual favors when the defendant began to cut her hours. In June 2018, “at the behest of” her supervisor, the plaintiff was transferred to the Woodland Hills location, the lawsuit states.
The plaintiff was harassed by a cook at the new location who cornered her on two occasions: on one account he followed her into the freezer and proceeded to turn off the lights, tried to lock the door, cornered her and began speaking to her in Spanish, calling her “bonita” and “mamacita.” He then tried to caress her face and kiss her.
The plaintiff reported the incident to her supervisor, the general manager of the Woodland Hills location and to the district manager.
In July 2018, the same defendant sexually assaulted the plaintiff a second time in the parking lot of Habit Burger. The plaintiff alleges she reported the incident again, verbally and in writing, where she then reported that the company retaliated by cutting her hours and writing her up for missing a day instead of taking action against the defendant.
The plaintiff is alleging the company was aware of the sexual misconduct, but “failed to take appropriate action required by law,” the lawsuit states.