Razzoo’s, a Dallas/Fort Worth-based Cajun food restaurant chain, will pay $1 million and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced. The EEOC had charged Razzoo’s with discriminating against a class of male applicants and employees.
The EEOC said that Razzoo's refused to hire or promote men to the position of bartender in its restaurants. Razzoo's management set up and communicated to managers by e-mail a plan for an 80-20 ratio of women to men behind the bar, the EEOC said.
Male applicants and servers were expected to testify at trial -- which will now be unnecessary because of this pre-trial settlement -- that managers told them Razzoo's wanted mostly “girls” behind the bar. Men who worked as servers at the restaurants reportedly were generally denied promotion to bartender because of their gender. The few men who were promoted to bartender were not allowed to work lucrative “girls-only” bartending events.
Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
"Some may think that sex sells drinks, but gender ratios are illegal," said Suzanne Anderson, EEOC supervisory trial attorney and lead counsel on the lawsuit (EEOC v. Razzoo's, Civil Action No. 3:05-CV-0562-P, Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division). "Razzoo's decision to hire and promote by gender is a clear violation of federal law. A hiring ratio is illegal whether it is 80-20 whites to blacks or 80-20 women to men."
As provided in the consent decree settling the suit, Razzoo's agreed to pay $775,000 to be divided among a class of male applicants, male servers, and male bartenders who were discriminated against.
Razzoo's also agreed to retain the services of a human resources consultant or to develop an in-house human resources department. The decree required that Razzoo's would spend no less than $225,000 for these human resources services. Also under the decree, Razzoo's agreed to injunctive relief requiring training on equal employment opportunity for all Razzoo's employees, the posting of an anti-discrimination notice, and EEOC monitoring of employee complaints of discrimination.
“We are pleased by the breadth of this settlement, which will provide significant monetary relief to the class of male applicants and employees, as well as strong injunctive relief to help Razzoo's develop workplace policies in compliance with the Civil Rights Act,” said Regional Attorney Robert Canino of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. "Everyone deserves the freedom to compete and advance in the workplace without regard to artificial barriers.”
Razzoo's operates 11 Cajun food restaurants throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metropolis and also has locations in Houston and Concord, N.C.