EEOC settles class action against Texas Roadhouse for alleged age discrimination

old womanThis lawsuit was based on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination. It protects job applicants and employees who are at least 40 years old from age discrimination with regard to hiring, promotion, compensation, terms or conditions of employment, and termination. It’s enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Under federal law, there is no age discrimination against employees who are younger than 40 years old.

You may be able to establish an age discrimination case under federal law by proving:  (1) you’re a member of a protected class of people ages 40-70, (2) you suffered an adverse employment action, (3) people much younger than you filled the position that you wanted or from which you were terminated, and (4) you were qualified for the job that you were dismissed or rejected from doing. Generally, your age must have been the only reason the employer decided to take an adverse step against you.

If you’re able to establish discrimination under the ADEA, your employer must articulate a valid nondiscriminatory reason for taking the step against you. Sometimes an employer offers one or more valid reasons, the presumption that you were discriminated against is eliminated, and then you’ll need to present evidence that is enough for a fact-finder to decide that the employer’s reasons were a pretext to take the decision that was taken. Often, it’s necessary to conduct discovery to show that there are contradictions or inconsistencies in how the employer acted.

If you can establish liability, you can recover reasonable compensation that you suffered as a result of the age discrimination. Often, these damages include lost pay and benefits from the date the adverse step was taken to the date of the jury verdict. When an employer acts willfully, you may also recover liquidated damages in the amount of twice the pecuniary wage loss. You cannot recover punitive damages or pain and suffering damages.

Texas Roadhouse is a restaurant chain that recently agreed to settle a class action age discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC. The settlement is $12 million, along with an injunction stopping the restaurant from age discrimination in the future. Additionally, the company is supposed to create a position for diversity director and pay for a decree compliance monitor who will be charged with making sure the company follows the decree’s terms. The terms require the restaurant to follow the ADEA and to make an effort to bring on employees who are age 40 and older for positions that face customers.

The EEOC had sued asking for relief for a class of job applicants who were denied positions in front of customers, including positions as servers, bartenders, and assistants, due to being 40 years old or older. An earlier four-week trial had resulted in a hung jury. The claims process is supposed to identify and compensate affected people who are age 40 and older who applied to the chain restaurant for a front of house job between 2007 and 2014.

If you’ve been a victim of age discrimination, it may be a challenge to know for sure that you’ve been denied a job due to your age. However, there may be statements made by a prospective or existing employer that let you know that age was a factor. We may be able to help you look into the matter further.

It is important to obtain representation from an experienced employment lawyer when you have a dispute with your employer regarding discrimination or other matters. Contact us at (214) 528-6500 or via our online intake form.

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