Woman says west Houston restaurant manager sexually harassed her when she was 16
Former Spring Creek Barbeque employee wants better training for employees
HOUSTON – A former employee of Spring Creek Barbeque said she wants better training for staff members and management after she claims she was sexually harassed by a manager.
“He would always, like, kind of brush up against my butt, but it happened so frequently that you know it kind of wasn’t an accident,” said the young woman who KPRC is calling “Charlotte” to protect her identity.
In September 2017, the then-16-year-old was excited about her first job at the Spring Creek Barbeque, located at 5935 Hwy. 6 N.
She said that excitement changed when she noticed her manager would touch her in inappropriate ways.
“There was this incident where he comes from behind me and tries to put something in my pocket and I naturally jumped because my back was turned around and I was, like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he was, like, ‘I’m just trying to give you my digits.’ I was, like, ‘What the heck?' I just got the card and I threw it in the trash,” Charlotte said.
She said the same manager would put pens in hers and other female employees' jean pockets and then would sometimes remove those items, too.
Charlotte said one time, while sitting on the counter waiting for her parents, the manager tried to take her home.
“I was just sitting, he kind of leans into me and brushing against my legs and is, like, ‘Hey, who’s taking you home?’ I told him my parents are coming and he’s, like, ‘Oh no, I can take you home,’ and I was, like, ‘No it’s OK, my family is almost here.’ That just makes you feel uncomfortable because it’s some older guy who you obviously don’t know who is trying to take you home and he had taken other girls home from work, but I knew I didn’t want to be part of that,” Charlotte said.
She put in her two weeks’ notice and left the job. She was afraid to tell her parents but eventually explained why she was leaving.
“It was very stressful, and it obviously sucked because I didn’t want to tell my parents because, like, how do you tell your parents, like, ‘Hey, someone’s touching me?” Charlotte said as she cried.
Her family said they filed a complaint with the corporation and a police report, but said nothing happened, so they turned to a lawyer.
“Well, I’m hoping this will send a message to employers like Spring Creek Barbeque that they’ve got to train their managers. They’ve got to watch over their managers, they’ve got to train their employees, especially employees who are in the workplace for the very first time,” attorney Charles Peckham said.
He said the family hired him in 2017 and he filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission at that time.
“They also have to investigate and after a period of time. When their investigation is complete, then individuals such as Charlotte get the opportunity to sue, and that’s what happened here. So it took a considerable amount of time, we’re sitting here in June of 2019 and the charge was filed over a year ago," Peckham said.
Peckham said his office has statements from other young women who were minors at the time, who claim similar situations happened to them with the same manager.
“I didn’t want to get fired; it was my first job. I just wanted to make money. I was trying to go out with friends, I didn’t want to make any conflict,” Charlotte said in response to why she didn’t speak to higher management while working there.
Charlotte said the manager has since left, but she wants the company to provide sexual harassment training for workers and managers.
“Young girls, they shouldn’t be having to go through this. It’s like, it was my first job and I didn’t know what to do. It could be happening to so many others,” said Charlotte, who explained that she didn’t know who to turn to since the person she accused of sexually harassing her was her boss. She said she was afraid she would lose her job.
Charlotte is now encouraging others to speak up.
“If you do feel uncomfortable, it’s not a silly thought in your mind. You’re not being crazy. Like, something actually is wrong,” Charlotte said. “You need to tell someone, because if you don’t’ tell someone, it’s only going to get worse from there."
KPRC Channel 2 News reached out to Spring Creek Barbeque’s corporate office and is waiting for a response.
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