Federal lawsuit claims owner of Waikiki bar sexually harassed workers

Federal lawsuit claims owner of Waikiki bar sexually harassed female workers over the course of 7 years
Published: Sep. 27, 2017 at 1:40 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 27, 2017 at 6:31 AM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A federal agency is suing the owners of a Waikiki bar and liquor store over claims of sexual harassment.

The U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission named Michael Wenzel as the alleged harasser in the lawsuit.

Wenzel and his wife Colleen own and operate Pacific Fun Enterprises LLC, dba Snappers Sports Bar and Grill and Snap-ette Beach and Liquor Store.

Wenzel is accused of making sexual comments and inappropriately touching his female employees over the course of seven years.

One worker claimed he ripped off her bikini top in front of customers.

Complaints from his employees prompted a two year investigation by the EEOC.

"He was making comments about their bodies, talking about sexual acts with them and asking them to show their breast and buttocks to him, so it was very severe and pervasive," said Glory Gervacio Saure, EEOC Honolulu Director.

The suit also claims Wenzel required female workers to "wear cut up shirts and shorter shorts to reveal more skin."

Other management officials, employees and patrons further subjected the women by "demanding sexual intercourse or asking them to play with sex toys together."

When workers complained to Wenzel, the lawsuit says he'd simply shrug it off and told them to "handle it on your own."

Wenzel retaliated by cutting their shifts or pressuring them to quit.

"It's not right, it's not right at all," said Saure.

After learning about the lawsuit, one customer dining at the pub Tuesday afternoon said he doesn't plan on returning

"It's just not something I believe in, that you should take advantage of anybody because you have power," said Tony Bellamy.

"Harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated, especially if it's from the owner of the company because they should be models for their employees," Saure said.

The EEOC says it gave the owners a chance to settle the complaints, but they failed to reach an agreement.

The suit seeks employees are seeking back pay, benefits and compensatory and punitive damages for a class of aggrieved female employees, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent any future discrimination in the workplace.

Snappers' declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The first court hearing is scheduled for November.

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