Seafood Restaurant McCormick & Schmick Faces Md. Race Bias Suit

April 23, 2008

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class action lawsuit this week against McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant Inc., alleging race discrimination against black applicants and employees at its two Baltimore restaurants.

The EEOC alleges that the restaurant’s management refused to hire black applicants for publicly visible positions at its Baltimore restaurants for a period spanning Jan. 1, 1998 to present. The jobs included servers, cocktail servers, host/hostess and bartender.

A spokeswoman for the Portland-based restaurant chain said the company is “an equal employment opportunity employer that maintains policies prohibiting unlawful discrimination or harassment.”

“Notwithstanding this, our practice is not to discuss specific details that are the subject of such claims as it may impair our ability to successfully resolve them,” said Liz Brady, the spokeswoman.

The EEOC also alleges that since September 2003, the company “segregated front-of-house black applicants and employees by disproportionately assigning them to positions at one of the restaurants rather than the other because of their race.”

At both restaurants, the agency alleges, “management made table assignments because of race by assigning black employees to less lucrative tables (smaller parties), to tables with customers of the same race, and by assigning black employees to less visible positions.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

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