Cracker Barrel sued for age discrimination

TAMPA, Fla. A group of job applicants has filed a class action lawsuit against the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store chain for alleged aged discrimination.

The suit, filed here in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, contends that the family restaurant chain illegally required applicants to state their age on employment applications and other pre-employment materials.

Cracker Barrel said the allegations are untrue, and indicated that it learned of the suit from a press release issued Friday by the plaintiffs' attorney, David Linesch of Palm Harbor. “We received no courtesy call from the attorney, so the press release was our first knowledge of the lawsuit being filed,” said spokeswoman Julie Davis.

The lawsuit, William DeMarse vs. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., alleges that the request for and utilization of such information is in clear violation of the federal Age Discrimination In Employment Act.

The lead plaintiff is William DeMarse. The suit is also said to represent applicants nationwide who applied for jobs at Cracker Barrel and say they were denied equal opportunity based upon their age.

Davis said the allegation of age discrimination is false. “We are confident of our position in that,” she said.

As a management candidate, said Davis, DeMarse only had fast-food experience while others were more qualified.

“At that time we interviewed 10 people for management positions and we ultimately hired five. All five had extensive full- service dining experience,” she said. Also, she added, DeMarse was unwilling to relocate from Tampa.

“In the management ranks at Cracker Barrel we have hundreds of people of over the age of 50. We comply with all federal and local laws in hiring,” she said.