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Food

What's (Allegedly) on the Menu at the Cheesecake Factory? Employee Sexual Harassment

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Photo by chiragndesal via Flickr under a Creative Commons license
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A young woman who used to ring up cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory in Woodland Hills settled a suit, alleging that her supervisors sexually harassed her and then fired her for complaining.

Vanessa Lopez started working at the Cheesecake Factory in 2007 when she was 18, and she was fired in 2010, according to City News Service. The suit says general manager David Allen used to make inappropriate comments about Lopez's appearance, her body and even her scent (yech).

Later on she claims he began touching her and sending her unwanted text messages, and that he only laughed when she protested and told him to stop. The suit claims executive kitchen manager Anastacio Rodriguez also touched Lopez and laughed when she told him to stop. At one point, Lopez asked for a transfer to the Marina Del Rey restaurant but that request was denied.

It is not clear whether The Cheesecake Factory denied the sexual allegations at all. City News Service writes that the company's main defense against the case was that Lopez never complained about her harassment formally until her job was on the line. The company says she was fired for completely unrelated reasons: they say they caught her on video stealing tips that belonged to another colleague from the tip jar.

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The case settled out of court but the terms were not made public.