Texas Roadhouse, a national, Kentucky-based restaurant chain, will pay $12 million and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.
The EEOC had filed suit seeking relief for a class of applicants the EEOC charged had been denied front-of-the-house positions, such as servers, hosts, server assistants and bartenders, because of their age – 40 years and older. As part of the settlement, Texas Roadhouse will change its hiring and recruiting practices.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-11732-DJC, filed in September 2011 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleged that Texas Roadhouse violated federal law by engaging in a nationwide pattern or practice of age discrimination in hiring hourly front-of-the-house employees. The case, which was scheduled for a retrial on May 15, 2017, had resulted in a hung jury after nearly a four-week trial earlier this year.
“I am pleased to see this matter come to a mutually agreed-upon resolution,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic in a press release. “As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) this year, it is as important as ever to recognize the very real consequences of age discrimination and the need for job opportunities for older workers.”
The consent decree resolving the case, which was approved by Judge Denise Casper, sets up a claims process that will identify and compensate those affected individuals age 40 and older who applied to Texas Roadhouse for a front-of-the-house position between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2014.
“The decree includes robust terms that will ensure that Texas Roadhouse complies with the law,” said EEOC Deputy General Counsel James Lee in the release. “As a national law enforcement agency, the EEOC will vigorously protect the rights of job applicants to ensure that hiring decisions are based on abilities, not age.”
In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree, which will be in force for three and a half years, includes an injunction preventing Texas Roadhouse from discriminating on the basis of age in the future. It also requires the company to establish a diversity director and pay for a decree compliance monitor, who is charged with ensuring that the company complies with the decree’s terms. These terms require Texas Roadhouse to comply with the ADEA and to increase its recruitment and hiring of employees age 40 and older for front-of-the-house positions.
“Identifying and resolving age discrimination in employment is critical for older Americans,” said EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry in the release. “The ability to find a new job should not be impeded because an employer considers someone the wrong age.”
Mark Penzel and Sara Smolik were the EEOC’s lead trial attorneys for this case.
Individuals who believe they may have been denied a front-of-the-house position at Texas Roadhouse because of their age after Jan. 1, 2007, should contact the EEOC.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission