MIAMI -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has issued an Order on Remand in the case EEOC v. Joe's Stone Crab finding that the landmark Miami Beach restaurant engaged in intentional discrimination against women in the hiring of food servers.
The order, issued on March 23, 2001, is based on evidence presented in two trials held in 1996 and 1998 on the issues of liability and relief in EEOC's lawsuit against the restaurant alleging sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Judge Hurley's order follows the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals' remand of the case to the district court on August 4, 2000. In issuing the finding of intentional discrimination last week, Judge Hurley also reaffirmed and reinstated "all prior findings of fact set forth in the two previous opinions" regarding monetary and injunctive relief against Joe's.
"The EEOC is pleased with the court's ruling on our intentional discrimination claim," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, regional attorney of EEOC's Miami District Office, which litigated the case. "This ruling should cause employers in Florida and across the nation to think twice before making discriminatory employment decisions based on flawed reasoning about one's gender."
EEOC's lawsuit, initially filed in May 1993, alleged that Joe's discriminated against women in hiring for the position of food server dating back to October 1986. Joe's practices resulted in the hiring of male applicants for 108 consecutive openings for waiters/waitresses.
In his ruling, Judge Hurley found that Joe's "subordinate employees, exercising delegated authority, deliberately and systematically excluded women from food server positions based on a sexual stereotype which simply associated fine-dining ambience' with all-male food service." The court further found that "Joe's implicit policy of hiring only male food servers gave rise to a deserved, well-known reputation that Joe's discriminated against female food servers. This reputation, in turn, caused many qualified females not to apply at Joe's for food server positions."
The court restated its prior finding that "what prevailed at Joe's...was the ethos that female food servers were not to be hired," and that prior to EEOC's intervention, female applicants for food server positions at Joe's "had no reasonable likelihood of being hired." The court also reemphasized its finding that "Joe's owners and managers, through their silence, consented to the deliberate and systematic exclusion of women from the serving staff."
"This ruling is significant because it reiterates what EEOC has said all along: the most coveted and highly paid food server positions at prestigious restaurants cannot be reserved for persons of a particular gender," said Gedety N. Serralta, senior trial attorney at EEOC's Miami office. "Employers must judge employees and applicants based solely on merit and their ability to do the job, not on their gender or other non-job related criteria."
Judge Hurley's order upholds his prior ruling against Joe's in August 1998. In that decision, which applies to Joe's hiring practices through the year 2001, a court-appointed monitor was ordered to attend the Roll Call (Joe's in-person hiring process) and prepare a report to the judge. In addition, Joe's was ordered by the court to advertise its Roll Call in local newspapers, adopt a corporate resolution stating that it is an equal opportunity employer, and provide training to the restaurant's human resources personnel.
Judge Hurley also awarded damages in the amount of $154,205 (plus interest) to four claimants who attended past Roll Calls but were denied employment. The court's damages were based on the difference in income from the women's actual work history compared to what it would have been had they worked at Joe's.
Federico Costales, director of EEOC's Miami District Office, said: "We believe that the public interest has been served and hope that this decision signifies the conclusion of this case. Employers who fail to hire women as wait staff due to their gender make stereotypical presumptions about gender and the types of work women are capable of doing, which, as this case shows, is unlawful under the anti-discrimination laws."
In addition to enforcing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting persons with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.