NEW PORT RICHEY — The Golden Corral franchisee that lost a sexual harassment lawsuit against a former employee this summer has filed for bankruptcy.
A jury in July found that the franchisee, called Sunny Corral, unjustly fired Calvin Young after he claimed he was being subjected to lewd remarks and gestures from other male employees on a near-daily basis. Young was awarded $85,000 in damages.
Jamie Sasson, attorney for Sunny Corral, said the sour economy combined with lawsuits like Young's forced the restructuring.
"I know (my clients) were found guilty in this case," he said. "We still contend this is a frivolous lawsuit. There's so much of this type of thing. It's the hottest thing now."
Whether well-founded or not, the lawsuits cost the company big money to litigate, Sasson said.
He called the bankruptcy a restructuring, and said the U.S. 19 restaurant in Port Richey would remain open for business.
Young, 41, worked there for about a month in 2006. He was on the management track with the hope of eventually landing a high-paying general manager's job.
In his lawsuit, he claimed that two gay male co-workers pestered him constantly with lewd remarks and pressed up against his body, forcing him into a "sandwich."
The treatment, he said, was humiliating and emasculating. When he complained to two managers, he said, they did nothing about it.
"You have to either: A. Walk out and quit the job and lose your career, or B. You tell somebody like I did," Young told the Times after the trial. "I told people and I was looked at like, 'What's wrong with you?'"
Young's attorneys have filed motions seeking to have Sunny Corral pay their fees and costs, which total more than $250,000.
But that's on hold, as are the lawsuits of three other employees who filed along with Young in 2008, because of the bankruptcy.
"I'm hoping they'll come out of it," Sasson said.
"They were already kind of teetering."
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.