In early July 2022, the EEOC announced Applebee’s agreed pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit over sexual orientation and race discrimination, as well as retaliation for complaining.
The announcement notes that according to the EEOC’s lawsuit, “two members of the restaurant’s staff verbally harassed a black employee by subjecting him to racial and homophobic epithets on a consistent basis. . . . During the course of the harassment, the employee complained to various levels of management at the restaurant, but no actions were taken by the employer.” This alleged behavior is a violation of employee’s protected rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which in particular prohibits discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and prohibits retaliation.
In addition to paying the agreed upon settlement amount, Applebee’s will also be required to train management and human resources staff on sexual orientation and race discrimination with a goal of making them aware of their obligations to prevent such workplace discrimination and how to address complaints, should it arise in the future.
Sexual Orientation and Race Discrimination Remain Serious Problems in U.S. Workplaces
Unfortunately, sexual orientation discrimination did not end with the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Bostock vs. Clayton County, Georgia. Likewise, race discrimination has remained a serious obstacle to equality in the workplace for decades. In either case, even where unintended, such discrimination may occur. For example, an employment policy or practice that applies company-wide, regardless of an employee’s protected status, can be illegal if it has a negative impact on a specific class of people. For example, a policy that prohibits hiring anyone who has been arrested. While this may not seem like it takes regard to race or national origin, it in effect disproportionately harms a certain class of people, making such a policy unlawful.
Get Assistance from a Florida Licensed Employment Attorney
Could your Florida company or management staff benefit from a review of process, practices, and policies, or discrimination prevention training and a grievance reporting system? If so, you may benefit from an employment lawyer and neutral-third party to assess next steps for protecting your business. Contact an experienced Florida employment lawyer for help.