A Taco Bell worker reported a party where co-workers were ‘openly having sex.’ Employees retaliated and HR did nothing, a lawsuit alleges.

Dive Brief:

  • A former Taco Bell cashier said the company allegedly did nothing after she received threats from colleagues for reporting to human resources misconduct at a restaurant Christmas party, according to a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California. 
  • The employee allegedly received threatening texts and had her car window broken after she reported witnessing co-workers becoming overly intoxicated, vomiting and openly having sex during the party at the store. The company fired the co-workers who misbehaved at the party but didn’t discipline the employees who sent threatening messages, the lawsuit alleges. 
  • The employee’s lawsuit alleges discrimination, sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, retaliation and failure to investigate under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and California Labor Code. “While we don’t own or manage this location, the franchisee who owns and operates this restaurant has shared that they take these claims very seriously,” Taco Bell shared in an email to HR Dive. Alvarado Restaurant Group, the franchisee, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dive Insight:

FEHA protects workers from harassment or discrimination over age, ancestry, color, creed, denial of family and medical care leave, disability, marital status, medical condition, national origin, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.

In September, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. would have to go to trial for allegedly failing to stop gender identity discrimination in the workplace. The worker said he was misgendered, skipped for a promotion and forced to relocate offices in violation of FEHA. 

In August, California Supreme Court ruled that third parties can be liable for employment discrimination under FEHA as well. The decision affects employers that use outside providers in their hiring process.