Former African-American workers at Metairie location complained of racially-hostile work environment and retaliation
Edited by Tribune Staff
Hooters of Louisiana, LLC has agreed to pay former African-American employees $650,000 to settle a race and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced in a statement Tuesday (Sept. 5).
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, since 2017, Hooters subjected Black employees at its Metairie location to a racially hostile work environment where African-American employees were the target of offensive and demeaning remarks. The lawsuit also alleged that Hooters did not rehire any of the restaurant’s African American employees when it initially began to rehire its workers after layoffs in 2020 that were caused by the pandemic, initially restaffing the restaurant with non-Black employees only.
The alleged actions on the part of Hooters violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discriminating based on race. The EEOC filed its suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, resulting in the settlement and a three-year consent decree under which Hooters will pay the former employees $650,000 in backpay and damages, conduct training, revise policies, provide regular reports to the EEOC, and post a notice affirming its obligations under Title VII.
“This is a strong resolution which serves the public interest. The decree provides relief for the former employees and will help assure no employee will be discriminated against or subject to harassment based on race,” said Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office. “We are pleased the EEOC and Hooters were able to quickly reach a resolution that is in the interests of justice.”
A nearly identical lawsuit was recently filed in August against a Hooter’s restaurant in Greensboro, NC. The EEOC lawsuit filed in North Carolina also alleges that Black employees of the restaurant chain known for its scantily-clad servers were subjected to a hostile work environment and were also not rehired when the restaurant brought employees back after the pandemic.
Peter Theis, trial attorney in the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office, said, “The law does not
tolerate harassment or refusing to hire based on race, and it does not tolerate retaliating against employees for complaining about discrimination.”
“Racial comments and discriminatory hiring practices have no place in any workplace, whether that is a restaurant floor, factory floor, or corporate headquarters,” said Michael Kirkland, director for the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office. “The EEOC vigorously enforces the law to address race-based discrimination.”
The EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office is part of the Houston District Office, which covers
Louisiana and parts of Texas.
More information about race discrimination is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/racecolordiscrimination. More information about retaliation is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/retaliation.