Owner of two South County businesses accused of sexual harassment

Allegations of sexual harassment on the part of the owner of Tapioca Express outlets in Chula Vista and National City has prompted the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to file suit against the Asian-themed fast-food chain, the federal agency announced today.

According to the commission, the proprietor of the two San Diego-area shops repeatedly wrapped his arms around female employees, pressed up against them and made inappropriate comments about their bodies.

Some of the alleged victims quit their jobs due to the “escalating sexual harassment,” according to an EEOC news release that did not identify the accused businessman.

The commission filed suit in U.S. District Court in San Diego against South El Monte-based Tapioca Express Inc. and two related companies — Edeleen Inc. and Erivera Enterprise — after trying in vain to reach a settlement through a conciliation process, according to the government agency.

The lawsuit charges the defendants with failing to prevent and correct the alleged harassment despite numerous complaints, seeks monetary damages for the women purportedly subjected to the demeaning behavior and calls for injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct such discrimination.

“Sex harassment remains a persistent problem which requires all employers to ensure accountability, training and leadership to promote a workplace free of harassment,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles-area office.

According its website, Tapioca Express specializes in milk tea and other popular snacks from Asia, with stores in California, Nevada and Washington.

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