EEOC Sues WA Restaurant for Discrimination in Promotions

August 17, 2006 ( - A Washington State restaurant is being sued in federal court over allegations it discriminated against a black Muslim employee by telling her the establishment sought "hot, white girls" as cocktail servers.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the lawsuit in US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington against the Starlight Lounge, located in Ellensburg, Washington, the Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit contends the owner failed to promote waitress Angela Harper to the cocktail server position because of her race and religion, according to the report. Harper, who wears a headscarf, sought the more lucrative cocktail server position, but the owner said she was looking only for “hot, white girls,” the EEOC said.

Restaurant owner Doris Morgan denied making the comment, according to the news report, alleging it was made to Harper by a disgruntled former manager of the restaurant.

“The Starlight Lounge is a nice, upscale restaurant and lounge,” Morgan said, according to the news report. “It is the most diverse, tolerant business in Ellensburg. We have always hired people of all races and genders.”

Morgan said Harper was originally hired as a janitor, then became a dishwasher and finally a waitress during her two years working at the restaurant.