Texas Roadhouse Inc. will pay $12 million to settle charges that it denied front-of-house jobs to people over 40 years old, according to federal securities filings.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which announced the settlement this week, sued the Louisville, Ky.-based casual-dining operator in 2011. The EEOC alleged that Texas Roadhouse refused to hire servers, hosts, assistants and bartenders who were age 40 or over.
A trial earlier this year led to a hung jury, according to the commission.
In making the settlement, Texas Roadhouse denied it engaged in such a policy. But the company agreed to proactive recruiting efforts to encourage people over 40 years old to apply for jobs. The company also said it would provide training to personnel involved and will oversee hiring.
Texas Roadhouse will also report its application and hiring rates for people over 40 years old to a third-party monitor. “The settlement was not an admission of guilt, but rather a business decision,” Travis Doster, senior director of public relations for Texas Roadhouse, said in an emailed statement. “After seven years of litigation, including a recent mistrial, we still faced a prospect of many more years of legal bills, trials, and appeals. With that in mind, we felt it was in everyone's best interest to settle this and move on. Texas Roadhouse is and always will be an equal opportunity employer.”
The $12 million will go to a fund for people who claimed they were discriminated against on the basis of age. The claims process is for people age 40 or over who applied to Texas Roadhouse for a front-of-house position between 2007 and 2014.
The consent decree between the EEOC and Texas Roadhouse will be in force for 3.5 years, and includes an injunction preventing the company from age discrimination in the future.
“Identifying and resolving age discrimination in employment is critical for older Americans,” EEOC New York District director Kevin Berry said in a statement. “The ability to find a new job should not be impeded because an employer considers someone the wrong age.”
Texas Roadhouse did not respond to a request for comment.
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