Columbia City bar owner charged with sexual harassment

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s (ICRC) Deputy Director Akia Haynes announced today there is probable cause to believe that a former female bartender at Tri Lakes Tavern in Columbia City, Indiana was subjected to sexual harassment throughout the course of her employment.

An investigation stemming from the September 9, 2013 Complaint filed with the ICRC found that the Complainant was subjected to unwanted and explicit comments throughout the duration of her employment with Respondent. Witness testimony substantiates that the Complaining party was subjected to offensive and inappropriate comments as well as unwanted touching.

“The issue before the Commission is whether the alleging party was subjected to unlawful harassment based on her sex.” said Haynes. “Through our initial investigation, there is reason to believe this was the case. A public hearing before the Commission is necessary to determine whether a violation did in fact, occur.”

Both the Complaining party and the witness reported the behavior to the owner’s wife who responded by saying: “That is just him.” Ultimately, nothing was done about the harassment and Complainant was terminated after she continued to complain about her treatment.

In order to prevail, Complainant must show that: (1) she was subjected to unwelcome sexual actions or comments based on her sex; (2) the conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive as to create a hostile work environment; and (3) Complainant made it known that the comments and behaviors were unwelcome; and (4) Respondent failed to take corrective action.

A finding of probable cause does not resolve a Civil Rights Complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Laws have been violated. Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.