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Outback Steakhouse Settles Sex Discrimination Suit

The parent company of Outback Steakhouse agreed last week to pay $19 million and meet several conditions to settle a class action sex discrimination lawsuit. The settlement funds will be distributed to women who have worked at the restaurant for at least three years since 2002, according to the Associated Press. Under the settlement, Outback has also agreed to hire a new human resources executive, implement a new online application system for all managerial positions, and to hire a consultant that will monitor the company’s compliance with the settlement. The suit was originally filed in a Colorado-based federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2006 and alleged that women workers had unequal access to favorable jobs, which in turn prevented them from advancing within the company to profit-sharing positions. EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart Ishimaru said “There are still too many glass ceilings left to shatter in workplaces throughout corporate America [and] the EEOC will continue to bring class lawsuits like this one against employers who engage in gender discrimination on a systemic scale,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Liz Smith, CEO of OSI Restaurant Partners LLC, which operates the Outback Steakhouse chain, said in a statement, “I am very pleased the company and the EEOC have resolved this legacy issue. There is no glass ceiling at OSI, and we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.” The statement also said that the settlement “includes no finding of fault on the part of Outback. The company ultimately determined that settling the suit with funds provided entirely by insurance was preferable to the cost and distraction of further litigation,” according to Business Insurance.

Sources:

Wall Street Journal 12/29/09; Business Insurance 12/30/09; Associated Press 12/29/09

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