LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Texas Roadhouse is facing a steep fine after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it discriminated in its hiring practices.
The Kentucky-based company will have to pay a $12 million fine to settle a lawsuit with a group of applicants the EEOC charged had been denied front-of-the-house positions based on their age, 40 years and older.
Front-of-the-house positions include hosts, servers, server assistants and bartenders.
As part of the settlement, Texas Roadhouse will also have to change its hiring and recruiting practices.
The lawsuit was originally filed in Sept. 2011 in the U.S District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
"I am pleased to see this matter come to a mutually agreed-upon resolution," said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. "As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) this year, it is as important as ever to recognize the very real consequences of age discrimination and the need for job opportunities for older workers."
The decision also sets up a claims process that will identify and compensate those over 40 who applied for a front-of-the-house job at Texas Roadhouses across the country between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2014.
Texas Roadhouse will also be forced to establish a diversity director and pay for a decree compliance monitor, whose job it will be to ensure the company complies.
The company issued the following statement:
"The settlement was not an admission of guilt but rather a business decision. Even after a recent mistrial, we still faced a prospect of many more years of legal bills, trials, and appeals. With that in mind, we felt it was in everyone's best interest to settle this and move on. Texas Roadhouse is and always will be an equal opportunity employer."
Individuals who believe they may have been denied a front-of-the-house position at Texas Roadhouse because of their age after Jan. 1, 2007, should contact the EEOC toll-free at (855) 556-1129, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate "Consent Decree" in the subject line.