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Former server is suing restaurant

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

A former waitress at a Rio Bravo in Clearwater is suing the restaurant chain for negligently retaining a manager who she says assaulted her after doing the same to other female workers.

Nicole Pouillon-Buck contends that Rob Evans, who was an assistant manager, grabbed her, rubbed up against her and refused to let her out of a linen closet until she kissed him. She worked at the restaurant at 26200 U.S. 19 between 1995 and 1997.

Two former hostesses who say Evans also inappropriately touched them already are suing the company in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court. Their suits were filed last month.

Evans and the restaurant's current and former owners _ Applebee's International Inc. and Innovative Restaurant Concepts _ are named as defendants in the suits.

Cathie Koch, a spokeswoman for Applebee's International Inc., said she could not comment on pending litigation. Evans could not be reached.

The suits are part of the latest round of legal complaints against the restaurant.

In March 1999, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission substantiated sexual harassment complaints filed by three other female employees. The agency said the employees were sexually harassed by Evans and were subjected to "adverse terms and conditions of employment, discharge and/or constructive discharge" in retaliation.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit in federal court in June 1999, seeking the development of anti-discrimination policies at Rio Bravo and back pay for the women. Evans was not named as a defendant in that suit.