International restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday Inc. discriminated against male employees for temporary, seasonal assignments to a Utah resort, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the company posted an internal announcement for summer positions in Park City, Utah, with company-provided housing offered as part of the compensation for those selected.
Only Females Considered
According to the EEOC, the hiring announcement stated "only females would be considered," and Ruby Tuesday selected only women for those summer jobs, supposedly from fears about housing employees of both genders together.
Andrew Herrera, a Ruby Tuesday employee in Oregon since 2005, said he wanted to apply but the gender-specific internal posting excluded Herrera and at least one other male employee from consideration for the temporary assignment, the EEOC alleges.
“It’s rare to see an explicit example of sex discrimination like Ruby Tuesday’s internal job announcement,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William Tamayo. “This suit is a cautionary tale to employers that sex-based employment decisions are rarely justified, and are not consistent with good business judgment.”
“Mr. Herrera was a longtime employee of Ruby Tuesday who had regularly trained new hires at the Corvallis restaurant,” said Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko, "He was shocked and angered that Ruby Tuesday would categorically exclude him and other male employees from a lucrative summer assignment based purely on stereotypes about his gender. The company could have addressed any real privacy concerns by providing separate housing units for each gender in Park City, but chose an unlawful option instead.”
"Discrimination is discrimination," added New York attorney and former prosecutor Elliot Felig in an interview with Fox News. "The same laws that prevent women from being denied opportunities based on their gender, also protect men from being denied opportunities based on their gender. Most people would say as a matter of simple fairness, that's a good thing."
"The knee-jerk reaction to this case is that it is discrimination," opines Remi Spencer, a New Jersey-based trial attorney, in the same Fox News interview. "But if we look closely, we can see that it's not. Employees are allowed to hire just for a particular gender when the job calls for it, and in this case that's what it is."
She said the company didn't want to go through the expense - and hassle factor - of finding suitable housing in a resort community for both sexes.
"That's why this is about economics, not gender," summarized Spencer.
"This is not a BFOQ issue, or Bona Fide Occupational Qualification," counters Felig. "If you let this slide, it can create a bad precedent."
Ruby Tuesday is a publicly traded company operating over 800 restaurants nationally and in 15 different foreign countries, with an estimated 34,000 employees.