Outback Steakhouse to Pay $19 Million To Settle “Glass Ceiling” Suit

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Denver, CO—The parent company of the popular steak restaurant chain Outback has agreed to a settlement in a sex discrimination class action suit.

Hundreds of thousands of women were represented in the suit, which was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Colorado’s federal court. According to the lawsuit, female employees were discriminated against when they attempted to work their way up the managerial ladder. Female employees were frequently denied favorable positions, especially those that would lead to career advancement, such as kitchen-management jobs. This kept women from the higher-level, profit-sharing management positions in Outback’s restaurants.

As a result of the settlement, OSI Restaurant Partners LLC, the parent company of Outback and other restaurant chains, has agreed to pay $19 million. It will also institute a system of checks and balances to ensure that there is no glass ceiling in place at its facilities. First, it will establish an online application system for employees who wish to pursue supervisory positions, including management positions; it will employ a human resource executive to fulfill a newly created position, Vice Preseident of People; it will hire an outside consultant for at least 24 months, who will be in charge of determining compliance with the new terms, and who will review data obtained by the online application system and evaluate whether women are being provided equal opportunities for promotion; and lastly it will report every six months on the conditions of the settlement to the EEOC.

The lawsuit (EEOC v. Outback Steakhouse of Florida, Inc., and OSI Restaurant Partners, Inc. d/b/a Outback Restaurants, No. 06-cv-01935) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in 2006, and the agreement was signed by Federal Court Judge Christine M. Arguello.

The monetary relief totaling $19 million will be administered through a claims process in which an administrative official will notify all female employees who worked at a corporately-owned Outback restaurant from 2002 to the present for at least three years. Any of these women who feel that they were discriminated against in terms of promotion or management opportunities will be encouraged to come forward and apply for a claim to obtain monetary relief.

There are over 950 Outback Steakhouse restaurants throughout the world. The restaurant is known for its Australian-themed menu, which includes a popular appetizer item called a Bloomin’ Onion. In addition to Outback, OSI Restaurant Partners also operates a number of other chain restaurants, inclduing Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine.

 

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