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April 23, 2014

Outback Steakhouse to Pay $65,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Phoenix Restaurant Fired Server Because of His Traumatic Brain Injury, Federal Agency Charged

Outback Steakhouse will pay $65,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC's lawsuit, EEOC v. OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC d/b/a Outback Steakhouse and OS Restaurant Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-01754-NVW, charged Outback with firing server John Woods days after a new manager took over at Outback's Phoenix Metrocenter location. According to the EEOC's suit, John Woods had worked successfully under Outback's prior manager, but a new manager terminated Woods because of his disability, traumatic brain injury.

Disability discrimination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court of Arizona after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

After the court denied Outback's motion for summary judgment, Outback agreed to a 24-month consent decree that requires the company to pay Woods $65,000; revise its policies concerning disability discrimination; train its Arizona managers on the laws prohibiting disability discrimination; and post notices in Arizona Outback Steakhouses regarding employees' rights under the ADA.

"Managers cannot fire employees because of their mistaken beliefs about what individuals with disabilities can accomplish," EEOC Phoenix District Director Rayford Irvin said. "We are pleased with the resolution of this case, and we are hopeful that this agreement will help prevent discrimination in the workplace going forward."

EEOC Phoenix District Trial Attorney Nancy Griffiths added, "John Woods worked tirelessly to be a good server after suffering a traumatic brain injury. The ADA prohibits employers like Outback from firing individuals like John who add so much to the workplace."

The EEOC's Phoenix District has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and part of New Mexico. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

© Copyright 2013 - U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

About the Author

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

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