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PRESS RELEASE
9-25-17

EEOC Sues Whataburger for Retaliation against Manager Who Refused to Hire Only White Applicants

Tallahassee Restaurant Manager Was Told to Consider Only Applications That 'Sounded White,' Federal Agency Charges

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Fast food restaurant giant Whataburger Restaurants LLC violated federal law when it retaliated against a white restaurant manager because she opposed and refused to participate in upper management's directive to hire only white applicants, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed last week.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Whataburger general and area managers demanded that a white restaurant manager in Tallahassee hire only white applicants because Whataburger wanted "the faces behind the counter to match the customer base." The restaurant manager was told to review the names on applications, identify those names that sounded white, and to interview only those applicants. After the restaurant manager opposed and refused to participate in the racially discriminatory hiring directive, she was subjected to an ongoing pattern of retaliatory conduct including verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, a drastic change in schedule, and unwarranted discipline. The retaliatory conduct ultimately forced the restaurant manager to resign from her position.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Whataburger Restaurants LLC, Case No. 4:17-CV-00428-WS-CAS) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division, after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Employees who oppose unlawful practices should feel secure in exercising that right," said Michael Farrell, district director for the EEOC's Miami District Office.

Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the Miami District Office, added, "The EEOC takes retaliation complaints very seriously and will pursue them with the same intensity as any other kind of discrimination charge."

The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.