Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 5 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Ex-workers sue Señor Frog's bosses

Female employees of the closed eatery accuse the officials of sexual harassment

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 01:45 a.m. HST, Nov 03, 2012

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Señor Frog's, claiming the restaurant chain's owner, CEO and top-level managers groped, propositioned or demanded sex from subordinate female workers.

The class-action suit, filed Thursday in Hono­lulu federal court against La Rana Hawaii LLC, alleges widespread sexual harassment at the once-popular Waikiki Mexican bar and restaurant that abruptly closed in August after failed lease negotiations with the Royal Hawaiian Center.

The lawsuit, which names five managers and three top executives, alleges daily groping of at least 10 female servers, hostesses and bartenders, explicit sexual remarks and propositions, demanding sexual intercourse and favors and, in one instance, a male manager exposing his genitals. The female workers, who were also pushed to drink alcohol and have sex with top executives visiting the Waikiki establishment, were in their teens and early 20s, the complaint said.

"When you have harassment like this happening in every stage of management all the way up to the highest levels, we are concerned that there probably are more victims," said Amrita Mallik, a Hono­lulu senior trial attorney for the EEOC, adding that more victims are coming forward. "This was really rampant sexual harassment."

In addition, female workers who complained to management were subject to reduced hours, less favorable working conditions and, in at least two instances, termination, the lawsuit said.

Señor Frog's had more than 100 employees between June 2007 and December 2008, the period of the alleged harassment, she said. The complaint also includes women employed at the restaurant from January 2009 until its closure this year.

Company officials didn't respond to phone and email messages. Attorneys for Señor Frog's also didn't return calls for comment.

The suit claims that the behavior was condoned by Señor Frog's owner, Ale­jan­dro Shoer, and CEO David Krou­ham, who also participated in the harassment.

Altres Inc., a staffing firm contracted by Señor Frog's to provide human resources and oversee nonmanagement staff, also is listed in the complaint, which states the agency is liable for the hostile work environment.

The suit said that Altres received complaints from four workers and investigated one case in 2008. Altres said its investigation was based on discrimination, not sexual harassment, and that the findings were different from the EEOC claims.

"Because we were issuing paychecks, that's why we got dragged into this thing. We're the employer on paper," said Altres President and CEO Barron Guss. "We did do an investigation and reported it to Señor Frog's. From there we have no other role."

Guss anticipates that his company will be dismissed from the lawsuit.

Altres' role with the restaurant was "administrative employer services, so we will naturally be named (in such lawsuits). It's up to the courts to sort it out, and they always do," he said.

Altres, which handles payroll for about 800 local companies and also offers staffing services, has not done business with Señor Frog's for about four years, after the restaurant did not renew its contract. Altres was listed in the lawsuit as a joint employer from 2007 to 2008.

"We provided administrative services only," Guss told the Star-Advertiser. The employees were "hired, directed, controlled, compensated and sometimes terminated, all by Señor Frog's. The smoke's on the other side of the fence."

The lawsuit, originally filed in December, was earlier dismissed by a federal judge, due in part to a lack of details, according to the EEOC. The commission said it tried twice in 2011 and 2012 to resolve the matter without litigation after the case was brought to its attention in 2008 by an employee.

The Waikiki restaurant, which opened in 2007, was one of more than a dozen operating in Mexico, the U.S. and the Caribbean.


Star-Advertiser staff writer Erika Engle contributed to this report.

Senor Frog's - First Amended Complaint

 Print   Email   Comment | View 5 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
ejkorvette wrote:
This is nothing new in the business of nightclubs featuring scantly clad young Women. In some cases it's a double standard, but Unacceptable nonetheless. Women must make the deliberate effort to not give into even the slightest "sexual comment" labeled as just a joke. Or "you have to have a sense of humor in this company if you're going to make it"! Do not compromise your morals for money. Stay in school, acquire a marketable degree, and do your best in the competitive world. For that matter, places like strip clubs, Hooters, etc only set the inappropiate misguided standard for young impressionable Women, even mature one in their 30's, to think it is o.k. to use their body as a weapon of leverage or influence. Unfortunately in 3rd World countries this is the 1st option and maybe the only option. In America, we believe in ideals, and pratice these moral committments to our citizens of all ages, race, religion, and socioeconomic position. Men must behave and live a righteous life, Women must cherish their value and hold to their morals, even if it means standing alone in their convictions
on November 3,2012 | 03:14AM
allie wrote:
true. It was a terrible company. Any manager touching me gets reported immediately. My Waikiki aetery has firm rules in place.
on November 3,2012 | 04:38PM
Please shut down this place permanently! I would never eat there, even if the food was the best in the world. I hope they not only sue the company, but each individual who was harassing the women. I think they are crazy people.
on November 3,2012 | 05:06PM
Anonymous wrote:
I wonder how long this will take to settle. The EEOC suit of one of our major utility companies recently settled for a manini amount of $50K for a disabilities discrimination suit and had to have a person in charge of ADA concerns. A mere slap on the wrist considering that they had ADA & EEOC policies in place. The company says it agreed to the settlement to avoid litigation and is not admitting liability. It's no wonder many companies here try to see how far they can get away with tings.
on November 3,2012 | 05:28PM
DaWiseKanaka wrote:
So they were subjected to this kind of behavior daily and yet they kept going back to work? Why didn't they just quit? What, is it too hard to get another minimum paying job as a waitress or server?
on November 3,2012 | 06:05PM
Latest News/Updates