EEOC Sues McCormick & Schmick’s

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“African-American employees must be provided equal opportunities in job assignments and earnings with white employees, based on the quality of their work and customer service, and not their race,� says Spencer Lewis, the EEOC’s New York District Director.

National seafood restaurant chain McCormick & Schmick’s Restaurant Corp., faces a lawsuit alleging the company discriminates against Black employees by routinely assigning them to small parties and denying them the opportunity for larger tips resulting in diminished income.

Sometimes these employees weren’t even assigned patrons, according to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), The Black Star News has learned. The company also faces allegations of retaliation against the Black employees, according to the race discrimination action.

The action, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, contends managers in the chain’s New York restaurant “routinely assigned African-American food servers inferior work by assigning them to serve customers in sections of the restaurant that had smaller parties, by denying them assignments of larger parties with greater resulting tips and income, by denying them better paying assignments to banquets at the restaurant, and by failing on some occasions to give them assignments to any customers.�

A call from The Black Star to the company’s headquarters for comment was referred to a spokesperson who didn’t return a call by online publication time. The action was filed after attempts to reach a settlement with the Portland, OR-based restaurant chain weren’t successful, according to the EEOC (www.eeoc.gov). “African-American employees must be provided equal opportunities in job assignments and earnings with white employees, based on the quality of their work and customer service, and not their race,� says Spencer Lewis, the EEOC’s New York District Director.

Added the federal agency’s New York District Regional Attorney, Elizabeth Grossman: “Creation of a two-tier workplace where African-Americans are denied the more lucrative job assignments because of their race is unlawful race discrimination.� The lawsuit seeks both injunctive and monetary relief.

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