To settle a nationwide class discrimination lawsuit brought on by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Orlando-based restaurant chain Seasons 52 will be required to pay $2.85 million to individuals previously denied of employment, allegedly due to age.
The lawsuit alleges applicants ages 40 and older were denied “front-of-the-house” and “back-of-the-house” positions at 35 Season 52 restaurants nationwide. Filed as Civil Action No. 15-cv-20561-JAL during February 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, more than 135 individuals testified that Season 52 managers inquired or commented about age, including: “Seasons 52 girls are younger and fresh,” “Most of the workers are younger,” “Seasons 52 hires young people,” or “We are really looking for someone younger.” Additionally, the suit alleges the company employed applicants ages 40 and older at a considerably lower rate than younger candidates.
“When an employer shuns an employee simply because of age, everyone loses,” says Robert E. Weisberg, EEOC, district regional attorney. “The employer loses experience, wisdom and institutional memory. The employee, of course, loses his or her livelihood. In this case, with a class of discrimination victims nationwide, that’s a lot of loss for everyone.”
Age discrimination in employment currently violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
According to the EEOC, affected individuals ages 40 or older who applied for “front-of-the-house” or “back-of-the-house” positions and were denied because of age will be identified and compensated. Aside from monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit requires Season 52 to heavily revise recruitment and hiring processes, and contains an injunction disallowing the chain restaurant from discriminating on the basis of age in the future. To ensure this does not happen again, the decree requires Season 52 to purchase a decree compliance monitor.