The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against the Windsor Inn restaurant alleging the owner and other employees created a "sexually hostile" work environment where at least three female employees were sexually assaulted, harassed or retaliated against for refusing to engage in sexual activities.
The suit, filed Jan. 20 in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, alleges that restaurant owner Dimitrios "Jimmy" Vangelakos has engaged in unlawful employment practices on the bases of sex and retaliation since at least January 2011. It says he subjected female employees to verbal and physical sexual harassment and sexual assault including, in one instance, rape.
The case alleges he made sexual comments toward several female employees, including telling female employees he wanted them to perform oral sex on him, commenting on their breasts and buttocks and offering money for sexual favors. It also alleges he frequently touched employees sexually.
Multiple calls to Vangelakos and calls and an email to his attorney were not returned as of Wednesday night.
In the most serious allegation against Vangelakos, the EEOC alleges he raped an unnamed female employee, referred to as "Jane Doe" in the lawsuit, in his office and forced her to perform oral sex while a handgun was visible on his desk.
The suit also alleges Vangelakos suspended one worker for a week and reduced her hours after she refused to submit to his sexual demands and because she filed a charge with the EEOC. She did not respond to a request for comment.
In addition to charges against Vangelakos, the suit alleges that he facilitated other unlawful practices in the restaurant, at 7207 Windsor Mill Road. The employee known as Doe alleged that a manager at the restaurant choked her during an argument; and that a kitchen staff member sexually harassed her. When her concerns were raised to Vangelakos, he did nothing to stop them, the suit says.
Another server who joined the lawsuit, called "Mary Smith" in the court documents, claims she was sexually assaulted by a kitchen employee in an employee bathroom on Sept. 21, 2014.
Only a fraction of the charges brought to the EEOC result in lawsuits.
Overall 88,778 charges were filed nationally with the EEOC in fiscal 2014, and 167 became lawsuits. Of those suits, 76 were related to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. Claims against the Windsor Inn case were filed under Title VII.
Mary Tiernan, a program analyst for the EEOC, said the agency looks at a combination of issues when weighing whether to take on cases, including policy issues, harassment, and whether the cases are egregious or of public interest.
Attorneys for the EEOC declined to comment further on the Windsor Inn case.
The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction against sexual harassment and retaliation at the Windsor Inn; an order for equal employment opportunities for women at the restaurant; compensation to the plaintiffs for past and future losses; punitive damages; and court costs.