Happy National Waiters and Waitresses Day!

old school waiter photo

Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day. To commemorate, check out this blog about the top ten wage violations in the restaurant industry written by waiterpay.com founder Louis Pechman, featured on the Huffington Post.

Mario Batali Market Sued For Disability Discrimination

tarry market

Tarry Market, a specialty foods store in Port Chester, New York owned by restaurateurs Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, has been sued by a former employee who alleges that she was discriminated against and ultimately fired due to her physical disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York Human Rights Law.

Ivana Hidalgo claims in a federal court Complaint that Tarry Market managers denied her requests for reasonable accommodations and terminated her because of her disability. Hidalgo was involved in a serious car accident requiring surgery that left the bones in one leg more than an inch shorter than the other leg. Hidalgo requested that she sometimes be able to sit or rest against a stool while working, an accommodation that managers originally agreed to but then disallowed, stating that employees should not be sitting at work. The complaint alleges that Hidalgo continued working after her stool was taken away, even though she was in pain, but after missing work due to illness exacerbated by the company’s lack of accommodations, she was fired.

The lawsuit seeks lost wages as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

Race Discrimination Lawsuit Filed against Panera Bread Restaurants

panera bread logo

A race discrimination class action lawsuit has been filed by an African-American sandwich line worker at a Pennsylvania Panera Bread restaurant claiming that black employees were denied opportunities for promotion to management positions.

The Complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Panera restaurants precluded “Fat, Black, and Ugly” people from its workforce and kept these individuals away from customer contact. The lawsuit alleges that restaurant management adopted a racially-based hiring and work assignment policy and that blacks were routinely assigned to jobs in the back of the store, washing dishes or in food preparation, so customers would not see them.

Attorneys for the worker seek class action status for the case and compensatory and punitive damages for a class of African-American workers at Panera Bread who sought management positions at the restaurant.

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant Sued for Disability Discrimination

mccormick and schmicks logo

A deaf prep cook was harassed and demoted by a McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant because of his disability and as a retaliation for his complaints about his mistreatment, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Vernon Davis has been profoundly deaf since he was a young boy and had performed satisfactorily since his hire as a prep cook in May 2008.  Beginning in May 2009 up until his termination, Davis was mocked, had boxes kicked at him, and was called “vermin” instead of Vernon.  After he complained about the discriminatory treatment, the restaurant demoted him from his prep cook position to dishwasher, and from dishwasher to utility person, while cutting his work hours.  Finally, the EEOC said, Davis was fired as retaliation.

The alleged conduct of the restaurant violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, seeks lost wages as well as compensatory and punitive damages.  It also seeks injunctive relief to prevent discrimination from recurring.

In a press release, EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence stated, “People with hearing impairments can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions. Some employers assume incorrectly that these workers will have difficulty communicating in fast-paced environments, when in reality, they can be very effective workers.”

In fiscal year 2010, private-sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the EEOC hit an unprecedented level of 99,922, which included a record-high 25,165 disability charges.  That is an increase of 17.3 percent in disability charges over the prior fiscal year.

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