‘Old white guys’ passed over for jobs at national restaurant chain

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An age discrimination lawsuit has been settled for nearly $3 million by a national restaurant chain that allegedly sought to hire only “fresh” employees and rejected “old white guys,” according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Based in Orlando, Florida, Seasons 52 is a member of the Darden restaurant group, which includes Olive Garden, Yard House, and LongHorn Steakhouse. The lawsuit against Seasons 52 alleged that the chain disproportionately rejected applicants over 40 years of age to fill front- and back-of-the-house positions at 35 locations across the country.

EEOC records indicated that 254 plaintiffs were included in the lawsuit, although additional employees are eligible to claim a portion of the settlement money.

The EEOC obtained sworn testimony from 135 applicants who said that managers made a variety of discriminatory comments, such as, “Seasons 52 girls are younger and fresh,” “Most of the workers are younger,” and “Seasons 52 hires young people.”

Lifezette reported, “The settlement, in the form of a consent decree monitored by a court, will provide compensation to Seasons 52 applicants over age 40 who experienced discrimination. A claims process will also be established to identify other employees who may have been victimized.”

Seasons 52 will be required by the EEOC to revise its hiring practices and to employ a compliance monitor.

“We are pleased to resolve this EEOC matter,” Darden spokesman Hunter Robinson said in a statement. “Putting this behind us is good for Seasons 52, good for our team members, and good for our shareholders.”

The EEOC stressed that age discrimination is a prevalent method of illegal workplace discrimination. Employers are allowed to lawfully discriminate among applicants only on the basis of characteristics considered “essential” to the job.

“Although ageism is among the most common forms of employment discrimination, applicants who are turned down rarely know the reason why,” EEOC trial attorney Kristen Foslid said in a statement. “When an employer has a trend of rejecting older applicants, the EEOC will respond aggressively to combat age stereotypes.”

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