Written by Neil Harvey | Two women have sued Wendy’s of Western Virginia Inc. for $1.4 million, claiming they were sexually assaulted on multiple occasions while they worked at the fast food restaurant’s location on West Main Street in Salem.
According to a document filed Tuesday in Roanoke Circuit Court, the women said the assaults occurred in July, August and September of 2014. One of the women was a minor at the time.
During that period, a male co-worker aggressively grabbed both women by the crotch, the complaint claimed, and later touched one of them on her breast.
The suit alleges that the man also subjected them to repeated sexual suggestions and gestures, which were at times witnessed by a shift supervisor.
On Aug. 31, 2014, both women reported to the supervisor that they had been grabbed between their legs that night. According to the complaint, the supervisor was told by his general manager that the two women would still have to complete their shifts alongside the male co-worker.
“At that time, it was approximately 10:30 p.m. and the shift did not end until 1 a.m.,” the suit says.
The male co-worker, Sergio Cruz Mejia of Roanoke, was convicted in Salem Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of two counts of sexual battery, court clerk Brandy Duncan confirmed Wednesday.
Mejia was sentenced in October 2014 to a total of 12 months in jail, with eight months of that time suspended. He was ordered to remain on good behavior for a year after his release.
The suit goes on to say that after Mejia was no longer an employee, the shift supervisor in the incident grabbed the buttock of the older complainant while they were on the job together.
The women are each seeking $350,000 in punitive damages and $350,000 in compensatory damages.
Scott Quesinberry, a representative of Wendy’s of Western Virginia, said in an email Wednesday afternoon that the company has not yet received a copy of the suit and he declined to respond to specific allegations.
“When these employee claims were brought to our attention, we took prompt and appropriate action,” Quesinberry wrote. He said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted its own investigation and issued a no action letter to both complainants in December 2015. A letter indicates the EEOC reviewed the case but decided not to pursue it.
Mejia was terminated soon after the incident was reported, Quesinberry said, but wasn’t able to give an exact date. He also said the shift supervisor was no longer with the company but could not immediately provide more specifics.