Ruby Tuesday Serves Age Bias in Hiring, EEOC Says

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By Kevin McGowan

Ruby Tuesday Inc. violated federal civil rights law by refusing to hire an experienced restaurant hand as a general manager in Florida because he was 59 years old, the EEOC alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal district court ( EEOC v. Ruby Tuesday, Inc. , S.D. Fla., No. 17-60970, complaint filed 5/17/17 ).

The Ruby Tuesday manager who told applicant Floyd Cardwell he wouldn’t be hired said the company in filling the job was trying to “maximize longevity and minimize premature resignations,” according to the EEOC.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act “was put in place precisely to protect people against this type of conduct,” Robert Weisberg, the EEOC regional attorney in Miami, said in a May 17 statement. “The bustling hospitality industry needs to be reflective of all the members of our community.”

Ruby Tuesday interviewed Cardwell, who has 20 years of restaurant management experience, but ultimately hired someone 17 years younger, the EEOC said in its complaint filed May 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Restaurant Didn’t Respond, Agency Says

The company talent acquisition manager who interviewed Cardwell subsequently said in an email that Ruby Tuesday wanted to “source the ideal person” for the general manager vacancy to “maximize longevity” in the position.

Caldwell replied in an email that he believed he was being rejected because of his age. Ruby Tuesday didn’t respond to his complaint, the EEOC alleged.

Ruby Tuesday didn’t respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment May 17.

The EEOC and Texas Roadhouse Inc. in March settled for $12 million a lawsuit alleging that the restaurant chain unlawfully discriminated against a class of applicants 40 and older in hiring for customer contact positions such as hosts and servers.

The current lawsuit differs somewhat from Texas Roadhouse in that Cardwell sought a manager job that didn’t primarily involve customer contact.

The EEOC in its most recent strategic enforcement plan said that eliminating potentially discriminatory barriers in recruitment and hiring remains an agency priority.

The agency seeks a court order barring Ruby Tuesday from engaging in “age-based hiring” as well as back pay and damages for Cardwell.

EEOC attorneys in Miami represent the agency. No attorney has yet entered an appearance for Ruby Tuesday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin McGowan in Washington at kmcgowan@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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