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Protocol Restaurant in Amherst to pay $90,000 to settle sexual harassment suit

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Posted at 1:49 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 15:37:35-05

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — An Amherst restaurant will pay $90,000 among other measures to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the lawsuit, Paul Pelczynski, the owner and general manager of Protocol Restaurant on Transit Road in Amherst, sexually harassed female employees by engaging in numerous instances of inappropriate physical contact among other things.

The EEOC says the restaurant discharged employees who objected to Pelczynski's advances and other female employees quit because they could no longer handle that working environment.

The lawsuit requires Pelczynski to pay $90,000 to the women who he harassed and abstain from management or supervision of restaurant employees for three years.

“I applaud the women who came forward and exposed the long-standing hostile work environment at Protocol Restaurant, and I hope this settlement provides some measure of justice for the workers,” said former EEOC Trial Attorney Elizabeth Fox-Solomon, who litigated this case along with Supervisory Trial Attorney Kimberly Cruz.

Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, said, “The EEOC is pleased that it was able to obtain compensation for workers who were sexually harassed.”

The EEOC’s New York District director, Judy Keenan, added, “No one should be forced to endure sexual advances or inappropriate physical contact to earn a living. The EEOC is com­mitted to ensuring that all workers are free from sexual harassment on the job.”

In response to this article, attorneys for Protocol Restaurant and Paul Pelczynski released the following via email

While Protocol and Mr. Pelczynski acknowledge that the lawsuit commenced by the EEOC has been resolved, I am compelled to note that Protocol and Mr. Pelczynski have always denied any wrongdoing and always denied each of the unproven allegations in the EEOC’s lawsuit. The settlement with EEOC reiterates this position, stating that Protocol and Mr. Pelczynski deny having engaged in any conduct that violated Federal law, and further stating that they do not admit any liability as part of the parties’ settlement. It is important to remember that the EEOC has not proven that either Protocol or Mr. Pelczynski engaged in any conduct in violation of the law. The parties agreed to settle the case in order to avoid the significant expense and massive burden of further litigation—especially the burden and expense faced when a private party must defend against a claim asserted by the U.S. government.
Protocol and Mr. Pelczynski remain very grateful to their loyal customers, whom they served for 49 years. Protocol and Mr. Pelczynski always endeavored to provide an outstanding restaurant experience for each and every guest that came to Protocol Restaurant.