Texas Roadhouse Settles EEOC Age Bias Lawsuit for $12 Million

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 4, 2017

The Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain has agreed to pay $12 million to resolve a class action lawsuit in which it was accused of engaging in a nationwide pattern and practice of age discrimination in hiring. The lawsuit claimed that Texas Roadhouse made it "standard operating procedure" to reject older applicants for customer-facing jobs, including hosts, servers, server assistants and bartenders. A four-week trial in federal court in Massachusetts had resulted in a hung jury earlier this year, but a retrial was scheduled for May 2017.

However, a consent decree approved by U.S. District Judge Denise Casper resolved the case and set up a process to identify and compensate all applicants 40 and older who applied for jobs with Texas Roadhouse between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2014, who may have been affected.

According to the EEOC, the consent decree will remain in force for three-and-a-half years. It includes an injunction to prevent the restaurant chain from discriminating on the basis of age in the future. Texas Roadhouse also must increase its recruitment and hiring of prospective employees age 40 and older for customer-facing positions as part of the agreement. In addition, it will establish a diversity director and pay for a consent decree compliance monitor.

In a statement, EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry said, "Identifying and resolving age discrimination in employment is critical for older Americans. The ability to find a new job should not be impeded because an employer considers someone the wrong age."

Texas Roadhouse had disputed the EEOC's authority to bring this lawsuit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the company did not admit any wrongdoing in resolving the case.