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South Florida chef sues restaurant for coworker sexual harassment

When most people think of workplace sexual harassment, it often takes the form of male to female harassment. But sexual harassment can be between coworkers of any gender, and can include any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature.

Last month, a former chef for a Morton's Steakhouse location in Boca Raton filed a lawsuit against the restaurant because of the alleged behavior of other members of the kitchen staff. He claims other staffers did "horrific" and "unacceptable" things to both him and the food.

His lawsuit alleges that he witnessed another chef putting stalks of asparagus inside of his underwear and parading around the kitchen. Afterwards, he said, management saw the chef take those vegetables out of his underwear and return them to his work station. They were later served to unsuspecting customers.

The man says that he was forced to quit after he was assaulted by that same chef in a restaurant cooler one day. The other chef allegedly ripped down the man's pants and underwear and grabbed his genitals.

A representative for Morton's said that the chef and two other employees named in the lawsuit no longer work there.

If the allegations are found to be true, the company will have to answer to some serious allegations about both personnel and basic hygiene standards.

This case shows that sexual harassment can take a number of forms, including practical jokes between men. Every employee has the right to go to work without being subjected to unwanted physical touches or comments. Any practical joke that violates this right is nothing to laugh about.

Source: NBC Miami, "Morton's Steakhouse Sued Over Alleged Sexual Assault," Willard Shepard, Nov. 2, 2011

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