Published Date: 10/27/2014
By George Ports
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, Inc. and McCormick and Schmick Restaurant Corporation will pay $1.3 million and provide significant equitable relief to settle a pattern-or-practice race discrimination lawsuit filed by the agency.
The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC in 2008, alleging that McCormick & Schmick’s violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by engaging in a practice of race discrimination against African-American job applicants by refusing to hire them for front-of-the-house positions at its two Baltimore locations, McCormick & Schmick’s and M&S Grill.
The agency further charged that black front-of-house employees hired at the two Baltimore restaurants were denied equal work assignments because of their race. The EEOC also alleged that McCormick & Schmick’s advertising for job opportunities on its website had previously contained visual depictions of employees that expressed a preference for non-black workers to the ordinary reader.
The EEOC filed its lawsuit after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit was settled by the parties prior to any adjudication by the federal court with the assistance of a US Magistrate Judge who served as the mediator.
The consent decree settling the suit establishes a claims fund in the amount of $1.3 million for eligible claimants who consist of two groups:
- black persons who sought employment as a server, cocktail server, busser, hostess/host and/or bartender at either or both of the two Baltimore restaurants at any time during the period of Jan. 1, 1998 to Jan. 1, 2010; and
- black persons who were employed in the positions of server, cocktail server, busser, hostess/host and/or bartender at either of the two Baltimore restaurants at any time during the same period.
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.
Further information about the agency and the regulations it enforces is available at its website – www.eeoc.gov.