Restaurant Chain to Settle Age Discrimination Suit for $2.85 Million

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Seasons 52, a national, Orlando-based restaurant chain and part of the Darden family of restaurants, will pay $2.85 million and provide significant equitable relief to settle a nationwide class age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.

The EEOC's lawsuit sought relief for applicants age 40 and older that had been denied front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house positions at 35 Seasons 52 restaurants around the country. During the course of the litigation, over 135 applicants provided sworn testimony that Seasons 52 managers asked them their age or made age-related comments during their interviews, 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." The company also hired applicants age 40 and older at a significantly lower rate than applicants under the age of 40.

Age discrimination in employment violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed its suit, Civil Action No. 15-cv-20561-JAL, in February 2015 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree resolving the case sets up a claims process that will identify and compensate those affected individuals age 40 and older who applied to Seasons 52 for a front-of-the-house or back-of-the-house positions at 35 Seasons 52 restaurants but were denied a position on the basis of age.

In addition to the monetary relief, the decree requires significant changes to Seasons 52's recruitment and hiring processes. It also includes an injunction preventing Seasons 52 from discriminating on the basis of age in the future and requires the company to pay for a decree compliance monitor, who is charged with ensuring that the company does not discriminate further and complies with the decree's terms.
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