June 4, 2010 -- Just weeks before a harassment lawsuit was set to go to trial, coffee giant Starbucks has settled out of court for an undisclosed amount with a young woman who said the company failed to protect her from almost daily demands for sex by a store manager.
Kati Moore, now 20, says the demands began when she was 16 years old working as a barista in California. She claimed 24-year-old supervisor Tim Horton would summon her for sex in hundreds of text messages, including one that said, "I'd like to f--- tomorrow."
Neither Moore nor Starbucks would discuss the terms of the deal or whether the company would create a policy for protecting teenage employees from sexual harassment, as Moore had wanted.
Moore's case was featured in a "20/20" investigation into the sexual harassment of teens in the workplace that aired in January. The "20/20" report also included other alleged cases of sexual harassment of teen workers at such popular chains as McDonald's and Taco Bell. One in three high school students reported unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, according to a study in Maine.
Sexual harassment expert Susan Strauss, who was interviewed as part of the original "20/20" investigation, said she is happy for Moore "that she doesn't have to go through re-victimization on the witness stand in a courtroom."
Moore previously claimed other Starbucks supervisors and managers knew what was happening but did nothing to stop the illicit relationship.
Moore's mother alerted prosecutors after learning of the relationship. Horton claimed he did not know Moore was 16. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of illegal sex with a minor and served four months in prison.
At the time of the "20/20" report, Starbucks released a statement that said, "These two employees concealed their relationship from Starbucks, which violated company policy. We are confident that the case will ultimately be resolved in finding that Starbucks is not at fault."
Starbucks says it does have a strict policy against sexual harassment and managers dating baristas, but there is nothing specific in its policies regarding relationships with teens under the age of 18.
What happened to Moore is not uncommon, experts told ABC News. The problem is especially prevalent in fast food restaurants where so many teenagers have their first jobs, said Dr. Strauss.
"They're vulnerable, they're young, they're new to the workforce," said Strauss.