Bahama Breeze workers sue Darden for discrimination

CLEVELAND Officials at Darden Restaurants said the company would “vigorously defend” itself against a racial discrimination lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court here on behalf of black employees at a Bahama Breeze restaurant in Beachwood, Ohio.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 18 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleges that three black Bahama Breeze employees were mocked for their wardrobe, form of speech and mannerisms, were subjected to racial epithets, and were treated differently than white employees, who allegedly received breaks, food and opportunities for advancement.  The complaint seeks compensatory damages for the workers.

Darden said in a filing with federal regulators that it stands by its employment practices.

Orlando, Fla.-based Darden is the parent of the 23-unit Bahama Breeze, as well as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille and Seasons 52. The company operates about 1,700 restaurants across all its brands.