Worker sues Ezell’s Famous Chicken over sexual harassment claims
Aug 8, 2022, 6:12 PM
A worker has filed a lawsuit against Ezell’s Famous Chicken for sexual harassment she faced while working at their Bellevue location, and she claims that the company didn’t do enough to stop the harassment.
Katherine Jara was a part-time cook at the location and did not understand how to speak or read English. When hired, she was only given company policies, including sexual harassment policies and procedures, in English, which she did not understand.
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The lawsuit alleges the General Manager of the location, Miguel Quezada, harassed Jara through verbal harassment and unwanted physical touch on her hips and thighs.
Quezada’s harassment culminated in an incident where the two of them were locked in the walk-in refrigerator and Quezada made advancements at Jara, according to the suit.
“Ms. Jara walked to the door to leave the refrigerator and found the door was blocked from the outside. Mr. Quezada stumbled in as though pushed. He stood behind her and, saying he was “helping,” and began to touch Ms. Jara’s back, moving his hands down to her hips and upper buttocks,” the lawsuit details. “For nearly 20 minutes, Ms. Jara tried in vain to both open the door and fend off Mr. Quezada’s advances. Mr. Quezada finally gave up touching Ms. Jara after being rebuffed, realized the door was no longer blocked, pushed it open, and left.”
The lawsuit details a culture of repeated sexual harassment at the location, with workers being locked in the walk-in refrigerator with employees or supervisors of the opposite gender against their will on multiple occasions.
Upon fighting back against her harasser, Jara says other employees were instructed not to speak to her as punishment for making things difficult.
Her lawsuit also claims that because she was not provided resources on sexual harassment in a language she could understand, and upper management beyond Quezada did not speak Spanish, she had no one to report the harassment to.
In a statement to MyNorthwest, Ezell’s said that they would cooperate in investigating the allegations.
“Ezell’s Famous Chicken takes very seriously any allegation of harassment, whether sexual or otherwise. We have long-standing policies that prohibit harassment in all forms, including sexual harassment. We have and will cooperate with any authorities investigating this allegation.”
The lawsuit is asking for compensatory damages for the physical and emotional damages of the harassment and for any lost hours faced by reprisal attacks from Quezada.