When will they ever learn? Outback Steakhouse has agreed to pay $19 million to settle a major class action lawsuit alleging sex discrimination against thousands of women in their restaurant chain. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claims Outback discriminated against these women by denying female employees equal opportunity for advancement to management positions while engaging in gender discrimination on a “systemic scale.”
Beyond the $19 million, Outback has also greed to institute an online application system for employees interested in managerial positions; hire a high level HR exec; bring in an outside consultant to ensure that they become compliant; and report every 6 months to the EEOC on carrying out the terms of the EEOC’s decree.
To be fair, Outback has denied the allegations. Hmmm, pay out $19 million even though they did nothing wrong? Really? I’m sure all of Outback’s female customers will be pleased to hear Outback’s strong denial.
For the rest of us, what can we learn from this debacle? To begin, all employers should take a hard look at their own policies and procedures? Ask yourself whether you have promotional practices that prevent women from moving up in your organization? Are you encouraging equal growth and opportunity for your female employees? How would an independent third party view your polices and practices.
Regularly look at your internal systems and procedures. Train your supervisors and managers on discrimination prevention. Make sure you are operating a business that is free of all forms of discrimination.
Outback is paying dearly for their actions. Hopefully they’ve learned.
Note: Get Dacri’s booklet Preventing Harassment and Discrimination Claims, a step-by-step guide for employers at http://www.dacri.com/store.htm