A judge will soon rule on damages up to $1 million in a case of “unintentional sex discrimination” by Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant. The Miami establishment, slated as one of the top 10 grossing restaurants in the U.S., was charged by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of discriminatory hiring practices against women.
The EEOC claimed that between 1986 and 1991, the restaurant’s owners hired 108 male waiters, and no women. The EEOC offered evidence that 44 percent of the servers in Miami Beach were female. In July of 1997, U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley ruled that Joe’s employment practices had a “disproportionate impact on women.”
Although federal law allows companies to refuse to hire people based on age and sex when the position requires, the co-owners of Joe’s, Grace Weiss and Jo Ann Bass, claim that they simply hired the best-qualified applicants. The restaurant’s owners, known for their stands on social justice and feminist issues, are astonished by the ruling. Bass said that the low numbers of female applicants for server positions never seemed like a problem, “We had women working in all other parts of the restaurant. And there was always a preponderance of women in management.”
While no woman had accused the restaurant of discrimination, the EEOC initiated the case on its own. At present, 18 of the 80 restaurant servers at Joe’s are women.
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