Outback Steak House is going to have to serve a whole lot of bloomin’ onions to make up for the $19 million dollar settlement it agreed to pay in order to end a class action sexual discrimination lawsuit. The suit alleged a glass ceiling for female workers by requiring that all employees reaching the profit sharing managerial level have experience in the kitchen. The problem was female employees were consistently being denied any positions in the kitchen for then to gain the necessary experience. This has been hotly denied by OSI Partners, Outback’s parent company.
Also part of the settlement is a consent decree that makes significant changes to OSI Partners promotion process including an online application that will allow employees to apply for managerial positions via the Internet. Human Resources will also get assistance in the form of a “Vice President for People”. And just to make sure that all of this is actually happening, an outside consultant will be brought in for at least two years and every six months they will be reporting to the EEOC.
This is not the first time Outback has been called to task for treatment of its female employees. Over the years there have been thousands of complaints at hundreds of restaurants alleging discriminatory treatment of servers and managerial staff. In one instance they paid over $1.2 million to a woman who was fired only to find her position was filled by a man making twice her salary.
In a bit of an ironic twist, Flemings, a sister company to Outback, is facing its own lawsuit for sexual harassment. This one involves male workers. Obviously OSI Partners has some issues to address regarding their attitude toward employees. Not doing so has proved costly in the past. It could be devastating in the future.
Clearly sex based discrimination is not limited to one gender or the other. Both men and women have experienced the degradation of discrimination based solely on their sex. If you feel this has happened to you or someone you care about please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out what can be done.