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Texas Roadhouse Sued By Feds For Alleged Age Discrimination on Long Island, Nationwide

Texas Roadhouse, a popular chain restaurant that has a location in East Meadow, has been sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly discriminating against older job-seekers.

Jobs are so difficult to get right now that older workers have felt the squeeze. As reported on our blog recently, the number of older job seekers is at a high level right now and many believe employers aren’t giving them consideration.
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Employment discrimination on Long Island and elsewhere is unlawful and can’t be tolerated. Our country is founded on the principal that everyone is created equally and everyone deserves a fair chance. And at a time when jobs are so scarce, employers must be willing to consider anyone who applies, not just someone of a certain age group.

According to an ABC News report, the federal agency is suing the restaurant chain after it was revealed that waiter and bartenders were rejected for various reasons. Some include:

“We think you are a little too old to work here”
It needed greeters who were “young, hot ones who are ‘chipper'”

Attorneys for the EEOC, the federal agency charged with ensuring discrimination laws based on age, race, sexual orientation, gender, disability and other factors are enforced, said the restaurant’s management showed a clear case of age discrimination nationwide.

Only 1.9 percent of the “front of the house employees” that customers would see, like waiters, greeters and bartenders, are 40 or older. Workers who are 40 or older are a protected class. That percentage is far lower than the standards at other restaurants, the EEOC says.

Texas Roadhouse denied the allegations and say they would fight them in court. The EEOC, however, says this isn’t an uncommon problem. With the economy in a downturn, workers 55 and older have spent far more time looking for work than younger jobless Americans.

Because waiting tables or being a greeter doesn’t require a certain age group, the Texas Roadhouse case appears to be a clear case of age discrimination. Older employers are stereotypically more costly because of higher wages and health insurance costs, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, studies have shown that younger woman — because of pregnancy costs — actually are more expensive for health insurance purposes.

Research has found that older workers take fewer days off than younger workers and get sick less often, but do end up spending more time on sick leave when they do get injured.

At a time when jobs are at such a premium, employers seem to be taking that as a sign that they can discriminate against certain groups. But this isn’t right. While they have far more applicants to choose from, they can’t have a systematic plan to choose certain age or racial groups over others.

Every worker should have a chance to get a job. Obviously, there are some exceptions, where older or younger workers simply can’t do the job. But for most cases — especially in restaurant work that isn’t specialized — every applicant should get serious consideration. If not, the law has been broken.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment law legal counsel in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

More Blog Entries:

Countrywide Retaliates Against Employees Digging Up Fraud on Foreclosures in New York: October 8, 2011
Older Job Seekers Feeling Sting of Age Discrimination in New York: October 7, 2011
Additional Resources:

Want Wrinkles With That? Texas Roadhouse Sued For Age Discrimination, by Alan Farnham, ABC News