Chain Denied Older Workers Public Positions at Its Restaurants Throughout the Country, Federal Agency Claims
BOSTON - Texas Roadhouse, a national, Kentucky-based restaurant chain, has engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of age discrimination in hiring hourly, "front of the house" employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit, Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-11732-DJC, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleged that since at least 2007, Texas Roadhouse has been discriminating against a class of applicants for "front of the
house" and other public, visible positions, such as servers, hosts, and bartenders, by failing to hire them because of their age, 40 years and older.
"The number of age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC has risen significantly over the years, which prompted the Commission to conduct a meeting on the subject last December" said Jacqueline A. Berrien, Chair of the EEOC. "Denying jobs to qualified applicants who are over 40 years old on account of their age is illegal, and as we heard during the Commission meeting, it can have devastating consequences for older workers and their families."
The EEOC alleged that Texas Roadhouse has hired significantly few "front of the house" employees 40 or older in age. In addition, Texas Roadhouse allegedly instructed its managers to hire younger job applicants. For example, Texas Roadhouse emphasized youth when training managers about hiring employees for its restaurants. All of the images of employees in its training and employment manuals are of young people.
"It is important in this difficult economic climate that we redouble our nation's commitment to the principle of nondiscrimination in the workplace," said P. David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC. "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."
The Commission also alleged that Texas Roadhouse's hiring officials have told older unsuccessful applicants across the nation that "there are younger people here who can grow with the company;" "you seem older to be applying for this job" and "do you think you would fit in?" Officials also said that the restaurant was "a younger set environment;" "we are looking for people on the younger side... but you have a lot of experience;" and "how do you feel about working with younger people?"
Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks monetary relief for all applicants denied employment because of their age, the adoption of strong policies and procedures to remedy and prevent age discrimination by Texas Roadhouse, training on discrimination for its managers and employees, and more.
"Restaurants may not refuse to consider older workers as applicants merely because of their age," said Elizabeth Grossman, Regional Attorney for the New York District Office.
"Applicants rarely know that they have been denied a job because of their age," added Mark Penzel, Senior Trial Attorney in EEOC's Boston Office. "When the Commission uncovers such evidence, it will act aggressively to remedy the violation."
Individuals who believe they may have been denied a position at Texas Roadhouse because of their age or who have any information that would be helpful to the EEOC's suit against Texas Roadhouse should contact the EEOC toll free at (855) 556-1129 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.