According to reports, a North Dakota judge ordered Applebees to pay $1 million as part of a settlement for a recent sexual harassment lawsuit.
The settlement will be split between the suit's 17 plaintiffs, all of whom are women who claim they were sexually harassed during their employment at the restaurant's branch in Bismarck South.
Initially, five women filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity, alleging they were exposed to an uncomfortable and unprofessional environment created by a superior. As the suit progressed, more former workers came forward with similar allegations.
"This manager's sexual harassment of his subordinates was blatant and ugly, and it permeated every aspect of life on the job for these women," John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said in a statement.
The settlement is believed to be the largest in EEOC history in North Dakota.
The case highlights the fact that companies need to ensure all employees abide by legal and professional rules and avoid creating hostile work environments at all costs. Failure to do so may result in a similar professional liability lawsuit.