HR Strange But True!
July 24, 2008

A Texas-based restaurant chain didn't have an in-house HR department. Now, it might be regretting that stance after paying $1 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the company of maintaining a policy that called for a ratio of 80 percent female employees to 20 percent male employees.

As reported in BLR's HR Manager's Legal Reporter, Razzoo's, a Dallas/ Fort Worth chain of Cajun restaurants, had great financial success with "girls only" events featuring only female bartenders.

To further the success, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged, the company issued and then communicated to its managers by email a plan to keep, through hiring or promotion, the ratio of bartenders 80 percent female and 20 percent male. The plan allegedly also said that these men in the minority were not allowed to work at all during the "girls only" nights.

"Some may think that sex sells drinks, but gender ratios are illegal," said Suzanne M. Anderson, EEOC supervisory attorney and lead counsel in this lawsuit. "A hiring ratio is illegal whether it is 80-20 whites to blacks or 80-20 women to men. ? Razzoo's decision to hire and promote by gender is a clear violation of federal law [Title VII of the Civil Rights Act]."

EEOC also brought some "monetary relief" to the males who couldn't work the big-money events, with a class of male applicants, servers, and bartenders dividing $775,000.

The restaurant chain also agreed to spend at least $225,000 to either retain the services of an HR consultant or develop a permanent HR department. The company also agreed to require training on equal employment opportunity for all employees, place antidiscrimination law posters at all locations, and undergo EEOC monitoring of employee complaints of discrimination.

Sources: EEOC and HR Manager's Legal Reporter

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