MIAMI -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that a federal judge has ordered Joe's Stone Crab, Inc. (Joe's) to institute mandatory recruiting and hiring procedures to remedy past discrimination against women who applied for jobs as food servers, and to ensure fair hiring practices in the future. Yesterday's ruling by Federal District Court Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley concludes the damages phase of EEOC's sex discrimination lawsuit against the Miami Beach restaurant. In July 1997, Judge Hurley found Joe's liable for gender bias under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
EEOC's lawsuit alleged that Joe's hiring practices from October 1986 through December 1995 had a disproportionate impact on the hiring of females for the position of food server. Joe's unlawful employment practices resulted in the hiring of male applicants for 108 consecutive openings for waiters/waitresses. "This ruling is a huge victory for women in general and female wait staff in particular," said EEOC Chairman Paul M. Igasaki. "The decision sends an unequivocal message to the entire restaurant industry that it is not acceptable to reserve the most coveted and highly paid wait staff positions at prestigious restaurants for men."
In his 35-page opinion, Judge Hurley wrote: "Throughout this litigation, Joe's has sought to portray itself as the hapless victim of a powerful government agency gone awry. Yet it is indisputable that it was not until 1991, after the EEOC announced its investigation, that Joe's began to hire female food servers in significant numbers. Until then, virtually every member of the seventy-plus staff was male."
Judge Hurley added: "Joe's suggestion that women did not want these jobs but were content to work as kitchen helpers, laundry workers, take-out salespeople, and cashiers is not credible. In 1991, when news of the EEOC's investigation appeared in the local media, women applied in unprecedented numbers. Moreover, interest has continued to grow."
Judge Hurley noted that in the face of Joe's position of "combative denial" the restaurant failed to demonstrate that it will refrain from discriminatory conduct "absent the strictures of a mandatory injunction." Under the injunction, which will apply to Joe's hiring practices through the year 2001, a court appointed monitor will attend the Roll Call (Joe's in-person hiring process) and prepare a report to the judge. In addition, Joe's must advertise its upcoming 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.
EEOC General Counsel C. Gregory Stewart said of the ruling, "The Commission is pleased that the public interest has been served. The judge's order will create a legacy of opportunity for future female applicants at Joe's and other prominent restaurants nationwide."
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.
"These women, based upon their years of experience in the industry, were fully qualified to work at Joe's and would have done so had they not been the victims of blatant sex discrimination," said EEOC Regional Attorney Delner Franklin-Thomas. "This ruling strongly reiterates what the law clearly states: that employers' hiring practices must be based on the merits of the applicants, not on their gender or other non-job related criteria."
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.