EEOC Lawsuit against Rosebud Restaurants in Chicago
In September 2017, the former commissioner of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Constance Barker had charged several Rosebud restaurants in Chicago of discrimination against African-Americans. The commission investigated the charges and a lawsuit was filed the same year. Upon further investigation it was found that as many as thirteen Italian restaurants of the Rosebud chain had turned down job applications solely on the basis of the race of the applicants. The complaint was turned into a class action lawsuit that eventually got a favorable ruling in 2017. Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. has been ordered to cough up $1.9 million and to change its policies to ensure there is no discrimination on the basis of race or any other factor.
Discrimination on the basis of race is in direct violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit against Rosebud Restaurants, Inc., case number 13-cv-6656, was filed in the district court of Chicago for Northern District of Illinois. There was a round of arbitration leading to the lawsuit. All attempts at settlement prior to litigation were futile. The lawsuit stated that not only was there a uniform rejection of African-American applicants but the managers and the owner of the chain were routinely abusive and resorted to racial slurs while referring to people of color, especially African-Americans. Owner of Rosebud Restaurants, Inc., Alex Dana was named in the lawsuit, so were many managers of the thirteen Italian restaurants in and around Chicago.
Rosebud clearly violated the Civil Rights Act and several regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The group also committed a federal offense by not providing employment data. The restaurants did not maintain proper records of employees and applicants who were turned away. According to testimonies of those in the know of how the restaurants were operated, resumes or curriculum vitae would be rejected straightaway if the applicant was black. There wasn’t any interview or rejection on the basis of skills, qualification or experience. The hiring practice was well known and it was evident since none of the restaurants in the chain had any African-American employee in any role or position. The group did not provide employment data on the basis of job category, ethnicity, race or gender. All companies are required to maintain and report such data.
There are multiple implications of this class action lawsuit and the subsequent penalty that Rosebud has had to pay. Discrimination against African-Americans is not uncommon but very few companies have a policy that completely discards a race from all its operations. There are managers and even owners who discriminate but not so rampantly and widely. In case of Rosebud, it was systemic and apparently it was an unwritten code. The lawsuit also brings to light the necessity to focus on discrimination on the basis of gender and age. If a substantial racial minority is mistreated to such a severe extent, one can only imagine the discrimination against the LGBTQ. The restaurant industry is treading cautiously now as the significant fine is a sufficient deterrent for others practicing discrimination in their businesses.