United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A. GIBNECY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")
brought this action against NAKI Corporation
("NAKI") for violations of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 relating to sexual harassment. The EEOC
served NAKI with the complaint and summons on November 30,
2018. After NAKI failed to file responsive pleadings, the
EEOC moved for entry of default. Pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 55(a), the Clerk entered default on February
26, 2019. The EEOC now moves for default judgment under Rule
EEOC alleges that one of NAKI's managers, Jared Spencer,
sexually harassed three servers, Michelle Henard, Bridget
Todd, and Joan Min, while they worked at NAKI's
restaurant known as Daisy Dukes & Boots Saloon
("Daisy Dukes"). Henard worked at Daisy Dukes from
November, 2016, until June, 2017. During that time, Spencer
frequently commented on Henard's appearance and asked for
sexual favors. He often slapped or grabbed her rear end. He
cornered Henard in the bar on a day that he was not scheduled
to work and later waited for her in the parking lot. On
another occasion, she hid from him in a bathroom. Because of
Spencer's actions, Henard became anxious, depressed, and
worried about how other male supervisors would treat her.
Todd worked at Daisy Dukes as a server from December, 2016,
until February, 2017. Spencer treated Todd similarly to
Henard. He rubbed his crotch against Todd's rear end,
cornered Todd in the walk-in refrigerator by blocking the
doorway, and demanded that she leave her boyfriend for him.
worked at Daisy Dukes as a server from January, 2016, until
February, 2017. Min and Spencer were involved in a consensual
relationship until January, 2017. After they ended their
relationship, Spencer treated Min similarly to Todd and
Henard. On many occasions, he cornered Min in empty parts of
the restaurant to ask her if she missed him, and once he
threatened to assault her. Spencer made disparaging comments
about other women in front of Min. Min witnessed Spencer
harassing Henard and Todd throughout their employment.
three servers complained to other supervisors and NAKI's
owner, Kimsan Yin, about Spencer's behavior. Yin
instructed each server to ignore Spencer. He also changed
Henard's schedule so that it did not overlap with
Spencer's, resulting in a reduction of Henard's
hours. Soon after complaining about Spencer's behavior,
the three women resigned. Henard resigned in June, 2017, and
did not find a new job until August, 2017.
TITLE VII SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIM
defendant defaults, the defendant admits the well-pleaded
factual allegations in the complaint. Ryan v. Homecomings
Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001). Thus,
in reviewing a motion for default judgment under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 55(b), courts accept as true
plaintiffs' well-pleaded allegations regarding liability.
Id. Courts must then determine whether the
allegations support the relief sought. Id.
VII declares that employers may not "discriminate
against any individual with respect to [her] compensation,
terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual's... sex." 42 U.S.C. §
To establish a Title VII claim for sexual harassment in the
workplace, a female plaintiff must prove that the offending
conduct (1) was unwelcome, (2) was based on her sex, (3) was
sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of
her employment and create an abusive work environment, and
(4) was imputable to her employer.
Ocheltree v. Scollon Productions, Inc., 335 F.3d
325, 331 (4th Cir. 2003). "Workplace harassment that
sufficiently alters the terms and conditions of employment is
actionable under a 'hostile work environment'
theory." Pryor v. United Air Lines, Inc., 791
F.3d 488, 495 n.6 (4th Cir. 2015).
case, the EEOC's complaint establishes the elements of
sexual harassment. First, the complaint demonstrates that
Spencer's conduct was unwelcome because the women
consistently rebuffed his advances. Second, the EEOC alleges
that Spencer's conduct was based on the servers' sex.
Third, the conduct was sufficiently severe because all three
women allege that Spencer often made comments about their
physical appearances and sexual acts, touched their bodies
without permission, and intimidated them to such an extent
that they felt forced to quit. Lastly, the complaint
indicates that Spencer's conduct was imputable to the
women's employer, NAKI. Spencer worked as a manager for
NAKI and supervised Henard, Todd, and Min. All three women
complained to NAKI's owner about Spencer's conduct.
Accordingly, the EEOC sufficiently pleads the elements of
sexual harassment as to all three servers.