MERRILL, Wis. (AP) -- A federal workplace-rights agency is accusing a restaurant in Merrill of failing to prevent a cook from sexually harassing waitresses.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it filed a lawsuit Monday against the New Pine Ridge Restaurant.

The EEOC says the cook created a hostile work environment by making crude comments to waitresses and grabbing their breasts.

The agency says the women complained but the restaurant owner did nothing to stop the harassment. The EEOC also alleges that some women were fired in retaliation for complaining.

The restaurant's owner referred calls to his attorney, who did not immediately return a message Monday.

The agency says the cook eventually pleaded no contest to charges of misdemeanor battery against three waitresses.

The lawsuit seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages.