Three former employees of the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Morgantown have filed separate, but similar lawsuits against the company and three supervisors alleging sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.
The lawsuits were filed on Friday on behalf of the plaintiffs by attorney Todd S. Bailess of Bailess Law Firm in Charleston.
According to the complaints, the three female victims, one of whom was in high school at the time of her employment, all claim to have been sexually harassed by supervisor Nicholas P. DeSantis, causing them to “constructively discharge” their employment with the restaurant.
Constructive dismissal, also called constructive discharge or constructive termination, happens when an employee resigns or leaves their job because their employer is creating a hostile work environment. This is viewed as a termination since the resignation was not truly voluntary.
The suits also claim Texas Roadhouse Market Partner Randall A. Boss and Managing Partner Joshua D. Jones were made aware of the harassment by the plaintiffs, their parents, and other Texas Roadhouse employees, but failed to take any meaningful actions.
The alleged victims accuse DeSantis of stalking and leering at them while at work and invading their personal space while standing behind them. All three also allege DeSantis placed his hands on their head, face, or neck and one claims he pinned her against a wall with the front of his body.
One of the plaintiffs states that on one occasion DeSantis pressed up against her and whispered in her ear “to open her mouth so he could spit in her mouth.” She also claims he would openly discuss having sex with former coworkers and told her that she “looked good.”
On another occasion, she believed DeSantis attempted to follow her home after finding him sitting in his truck next to her car, following her informing him she was leaving for the evening.
Another plaintiff says DeSantis would comment on her appearance and certain jewelry she wore and repeatedly asked her if she had a boyfriend and if her boyfriend gave her kisses. She also claims he openly spread rumors that she dated coworkers, and on one occasion put his hands between his legs to direct the victim’s attention toward his groin area.
The third plaintiff, who was underage, states DeSantis tried to groom her by asking if she was of age and when she turned 18. He also asked where she lived and what school she attended. When she refused to give him the information, she said he told her he would “stay up all night looking up her address.”
All three lawsuits claim sexual harassment and a hostile work environment against Texas Roadhouse and DeSantis.
Because both Boss and Jones were made aware of the reports against DeSantis and did nothing to stop or prevent it, the plaintiffs are accusing the two of aiding and abetting sexual harassment.
Each of the plaintiffs felt they had no choice but to leave their position at Texas Roadhouse and are seeking action against all defendants in relation to constructive discharge.
The three plaintiffs are asking the court to enter judgment against the defendant on all of their allegations and grant all remedies afforded under the West Virginia Human Rights Act. They also seek pre- and post-judgement interest, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.
None of the plaintiffs are seeking reinstatement with Texas Roadhouse.
The Dominion Post reached out to the Texas Roadhouse public relations office for comment on the accusations but did not receive a response by press time.