The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Carrols Corp., the nation’s largest Burger King franchisee, have entered into a consent decree stemming from sexual harassment charges by female workers. The decree, signed Jan. 10 by Northern District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. (See Profile), provides for a $2.5 million payment among 89 claimants who said they were subject to obscene comments, propositions, unwanted touching, exposure of genitalia and similar misconduct by other employees, mainly Carrols Corp. managers.

Carrols also agreed to provide sexual harassment awareness training to all its employees, to prohibit retaliation against employees who lodge complaints for harassment and to post notices for workers in all Carrols-franchised Burger Kings about the decree, which settles an EEOC suit filed in 1998, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Carrols Corporation, 98-cv-1772.

Carrols Corp. is headquartered in Syracuse. It has 576 Burger King franchises in 13 states employing 17,000 people. The company’s CEO, Daniel Accordino, said in a statement that the company did not admit wrongdoing by entering into the consent decree.”We unequivocally do not tolerate sexual harassment in our workplace,” he said. EEOC attorney Gillian Thomas said in a statement that “the harassment reported by the women in this case was truly egregious, with the majority of cases involving physical contact.” Adela Santos, Sunu Chandy and Gillian Thomas of the EEOC were the lead attorneys for the agency. John Giansello and Michael Delikat of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in Manhattan led the team of lawyers defending Carrols.