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Calif. Restaurant Chain Settles EEOC Charges of Refusing to Hire Male Servers


Sex discrimination is illegal in California workplaces. Some people think this only means discrimination against women. But it can also apply to discrimination against men. In simple terms, a business owner can no more decide to hire only women for certain jobs than they can hire only men.

Employer Will Pay Monetary Relief, Implement New Hiring Policies Under EEOC Consent Decree

One California restaurant group recently learned this lesson the hard way. In August 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged southern California’s Burgers & Beer chain with violating the sex discrimination provisions of Title VII by implementing a series of policies designed to employ only female servers in their restaurants. According to the EEOC’s complaint, only 12 of the company’s 144 server employed in 2016 were men.

And this was not by accident, the EEOC said, pointing to the following specific cases of sex discrimination:

  • A busser employed at a Burgers & Beer store applied for a promotion to server. He passed all of the required tests for the position and was told he would receive the promotion. A manager rescinded the offer, however, telling the busser that “the owners only wanted female server like at Hooters or Tilted Kilt.”
  • A man and his girlfriend both applied for jobs with a Burgers & Beer location in Temecula. The manager told the man to “put any position besides server on his application, because those were for females only,” the EEOC said. Eventually, the company hired the girlfriend as a server and the man as a busser.
  • In another incident at the Temecula restaurant, management told a male employee the company was “only hiring female servers.”

Rather than contest the EEOC’s allegations, Burgers & Beers parent company elected in December 2019 to settle with the government. With such “consent decrees,” the employer does not formally admit violating the law. But it nevertheless agrees to certain remedial measures designed to protect against future acts of sex discrimination.

In this case, Burgers & Beer will pay $150,000 in “monetary relief.” This money will serve as compensation for the individuals who were denied the ability to work as servers because they were men.

The company must also “create an implement a Recruitment Plan for servers” moving forward. This plan is intended to ensure Burgers & Beer casts a wider net in recruiting future server, rather than relying strictly on “word of mouth” hiring. For example, the plan must provide “written notice of all job openings” and make clear there is no “preference for females over males” for any position.

The EEOC will also require Burgers & Beer to keep a written log of all job applications received, which must be submitted to the government for review at least twice a year. And the employer also agreed to “meet a hiring and retention rate of men into server positions” at its various restaurants. For most restaurants, the EEOC said a 34-percent ratio of male servers would be “appropriate.”

Get Legal Advice If You Have Been a Victim of Sex Discrimination

Sex discrimination is never lawful regardless of whether the discriminatory policies target men or women. No employer has the right to arbitrarily restrict a particular job or position to a single sex. If you have been denied the chance to apply for a job due to your sex, you should contact an experienced California employment law attorney right away.


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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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