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Press Release 09-17-2013

EEOC Sues Rosebud Restaurants for Race Discrimination in Hiring Across Chicago Area

Italian Restaurant Chain Refused to Hire Blacks; Many Locations Had None at All; Managers Said to Use Racial Slurs

CHICAGO - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit today alleging that ten Rosebud Restaurants in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs violated federal civil rights laws by refusing to hire African-Americans in numerous Chicago area locations because of their race.  

The EEOC's pre-suit administrative investigation, managed by District Director John Rowe, revealed that company managers, including Rosebud owner Alex Dana, indicated that they preferred not to hire African-Americans to work in the company's restaurants.  He noted that Dana and other managers used racial slurs to refer to blacks, according to the agency's investigation.

The EEOC charged in the suit that Rosebud failed to maintain employment applications for a one-year period and to file required employer information reports with the EEOC prior to 2009, in violation of federal regulations.  Private employers with more than 100 employees are required to file annual reports with the EEOC providing employment data by job category, race, ethnicity and gender.  Federal regulations also require that employers keep all personnel and employment records, including employment applications, for one year. 

"The EEOC is committed to using education, outreach, informal settlement efforts, and, if necessary, litigation to make equal opportunity the reality in the workplace," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.  "Cases like this illustrate that, unfortunately, race discrimination continues to be a barrier for African-Americans seeking employment and this is the latest in a series of such challenges."

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago (EEOC v. Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. et al.,  Civil Action No. 13-cv-6656), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen.  The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the black applicants denied employment, hiring of qualified African-American applicants, an order barring future discrimination, and other relief to prevent future discrimination.

Rowe said, "At the time the EEOC began examining Rosebud's hiring practices, most of its restaurants had no black employees at all.  In most of them we were looking at what we call the 'inexorable zero'-situations where the absence of any African-Americans makes it unlikely this was caused by chance. Those are almost always the result of strong racial bias."  

John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said, "Major restaurants in Chicago present the face of the city to the world, so it is a special shame when they present a face disfigured by intentional discrimination.  That is not what Chicago is about, and the EEOC can be counted on to challenge that kind of discrimination.  This discrimination will not stand." 

Rosebud currently operates ten restaurants in greater Chicago, including eight white-tablecloth Italian restaurants and two steakhouses.  The restaurants that are subject to the suit include Carmine's, The Rosebud, Rosebud Prime, Rosebud on Rush, Rosebud Old World Italian, Rosebud Steakhouse, Rosebud Deerfield, Rosebud Theater District, Rosebud Italian Specialties and Pizzeria, Ristorante Centro (formerly known as EATT and Bar Umbriago), and the recently closed restaurants Rosebud of Highland Park, Rosebud Burger & Comfort Foods, and Rosebud Trattoria. 

In December 2012, the EEOC adopted its Strategic Enforcement Plan, which sets forth the agency's priorities for combating employment discrimination, and includes eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring.  

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at