The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced yesterday that it’s suing Kentucky-based Texas Roadhouse restaurants-chain for allegedly turning away older job applicants because of their age, sometimes in brutal fashion. Texas Roadhouse operates more than 350 eateries most of which appear under investigation.
Among the lines that managers have delivered to job seekers, according to the lawsuit:
- “We think you are a little too old to work here. … We like younger people.”
- “We’re hiring for greeters, but we need the young, hot ones who are chipper and stuff.”
- “You seem older to be applying for this job.”
In its suit, the EEOC alleges that Texas Roadhouse has discriminated against people over 40 years of age who’ve applied for front-of-the-house jobs such as waiter or host, stating that a mere 1.9 percent of the employees holding such positions fall into that age group. The agency describes that rate as “well below” the percentage of over-40 workers toiling in Texas Roadhouse restaurants generally, as well as below the national average for such positions. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers over 40.
Although the investigation was carried out by the agency’s Boston office, the EEOC describes the hiring pattern as “nationwide” and stretching back at least to January 2007. According to the lawsuit, a PowerPoint presentation designed for training Texas Roadhouse managers included a slide that read, “Step 1. Know what a [front-of-the-house employee] looks like,” and that was followed by a group photo of “young people shouting and making gestures.” The suit goes on to say that “all of the images of employees in Defendants’ training and employment manuals are of young individuals.”
Statistical averages are one tool used by investigators who look to see if there is a pattern and practice of discrimination. This occurs typically after several employees of a particular class, such as age, come to the attention of the EEOC. It’s important to be mindful of discrimination laws and to only establish hiring practices that are fully compliant.
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