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Seasons 52 Pays $2.85 Million For Age Bias

Darden Restaurants, which owns the restaurant chain Seasons 52, has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit accused Seasons 52 of excluding applicants over the age of 40 from obtaining jobs in the chain’s restaurants.
The class action lawsuit included sworn testimony from over 135 older applicants. These applicants asserted that they were asked about their dates of birth, graduation dates, and were questioned about their ability to keep up with the pace of the restaurant and younger co-workers. Specific age-related comments were made by Seasons 52 managers such as “Seasons 52 girls are younger and fresh,” and “Most of the workers are younger.” One female applicant was told that Seasons 52 wanted “young,” “fresh,” “vibrant” and “healthy” employees. A male applicant claimed that he was told that the restaurant did not want “old white guys.”
While Darden has denied that any age discrimination took place, its statement indicated that the company was happy to put the matter behind it. In addition to the $2.85 million, new training is now required for all hiring managers regarding “age-neutral and non-discriminatory recruiting, interviewing, and hiring; and how to avoid stereotypes in hiring and in the workplace, including ageism and age stereotypes.” Victims are invited to reapply for employment and the company has agreed to have its hiring practices monitored by an independent attorney.