Former Captain D's employee says she was sexually harassed

Andrea Dearden Aug. 15, 2012, 8:20am


A former employee is suing Captain D's, claiming she was harassed and sexually assaulted for three months while a manager did nothing to stop it.

Eulescia N. Willis filed the 37-page complaint July 16 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Captain D's LLC, Sun Capital Partners Inc. Restaurant sales associate James Soberalski and manager Derek Santiago were also named as defendants.

Willis says she was working at the Captain D's restaurant on Carlyle Road in Belleville in March 2011, when Soberalski allegedly began "intentionally and inappropriately touching" her "by pinching her, hitting her, groping her and making uninvited advances toward her." The incidents escalated to intentional groping of Willis' breasts, buttocks and vaginal area, according to the complaint.

Willis says the inappropriate touching continued for three months and culminated in an incident in the resturant's restroom while she was cleaning. Soberalski allegedly sexually assaulted Willis in the restroom. Willis says Soberalski trapped her in the bathroom stall and refused to let her leave.

Willis says she told her supervisor, Derek Santiago, about the alleged sexual harassment and assaults but says he "took no action to stop the behavior, effectively ratifying the conduct." On June 24, 2011, Willis says she told Santiago that Soberalski had asked her to show him her breasts in exchange for covering a work shift. Santiago allegedly took no action against the employee but, instead, asked Willis if she intended to fulfill Soberalski's request. Willis alleges she took her complaints to the Captain D's corporate office but says the company never responded to any of her calls.

Over a period of three months, Willis says she experienced "constant verbal and physical abuse and harassment, which no reasonable person should be forced to endure." She says her only recourse was to quit her job, which she did on June 24 -- immediately after the alleged sexual assault.

Willis accuses Soberalski of assault, battery and false imprisonment.

She says Captain D's and franchise owner Sun Capital of negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision and of violating the Illinois Human Rights Act. She contends both companies and Santiago are also liable for negligent investigating of a sexual harassment claim, intentional infliction of emotional distress and constructive discharge. She maintains she never granted Soberalski permission to touch her or give him any reason think his sexual advances were welcomed.

Willis is asking to be awarded more than $650,000 in damages plus court costs.

Attorney David Cates and Ryan Mahoney of Swansea represent her.

St. Clair County Circuit Case No. 12-L-361

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