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New China restaurant to pay $120,000 in sexual harassment case

The owner of New China Restaurant in Medford has agreed to pay the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission $120,000 and implement sweeping workplace reforms in order to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed early last year, according to documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Medford.

The settlement, ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke, stemmed from allegations of sexual harassment at the restaurant between 2017 and 2019.

The lawsuit began with two complaints to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries that described incidents of a manager subjecting female employees to unwanted hugs, putting a hand under a female employee’s shirt, touching female employees below the waist, and the manager asking a 15-year-old employee to text him nude pictures of herself, according to an earlier news report.

Under the settlement, the restaurant will pay three employees who lodged complaints with the EEOC for “compensatory damages and back pay where applicable,” along with unspecified “non-wage damages” for each employee.

Exact amounts for each employee were not specified in the court document, but the agreement ordered protections for the employees who complained to the EEOC. Complainants must not be subjected to confidentiality agreements for payment, and the business must not keep any mention of the harassment complaints in the employees’ personnel files.

The settlement requires extensive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training for New China at all levels, and close monitoring by the EEOC.

Restaurant owner Alan Yan and the “highest level on-site restaurant manager” will each be required to attend at least 16 hours of “intensive, interactive training sessions.”

Other terms require the business to hire an independent anti-discrimination consultant, implement anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies, and train staff at all levels about policies prohibiting sexual harassment.

The restaurant will have to provide staff the EEOC’s contact information and contact information for individuals who can handle their complaints in English and Chinese.

The restaurant will be regularly monitored by the EEOC for the next three years to ensure compliance with the settlement orders. Violating terms of the settlement could lead to an extension of the monitoring period, and any future owners of the business will be subjected to the same EEOC monitoring.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.