After a five-year battle, Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. is set to pay $1.9 million to settle a racial discrimination suit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Tuesday, May 30.
A lawsuit filed by the EEOC in 2013 accused 13 Italian restaurants operated by the chain in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs of refusing to hire Black applicants. The federal agency also alleged that restaurant managers, including Rosebud owner Alex Dana, used racial slurs to refer to African-Americans.
A magistrate judge approved the consent decree settling the suit, which requires the chain to fork over $1.9 million to African-American applicants who were denied employment. Rosebud also agreed to new hiring goals for qualified Black applicants to ensure that 11 percent of the company’s future workforce is African-American, according to an EEOC press release.
Under the terms of the settlement, Rosebud would also be required to recruit African-American applicants, train workers and managers about race-based discrimination and/or retaliation, provide periodic reports to the EEOC on adherence to the decree’s terms for the next four years and post notices informing employees of the decree’s terms and conditions.
“African-Americans have faced and still face barriers in being hired at upscale restaurants, especially in visible, and often well-paid, positions such as a server,” EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour, said in a statement. “That is why the recruiting and hiring relief in this decree is so important. It will lead directly to qualified Blacks being hired for front- and back-of-the-house positions, helping to remedy past discrimination by Rosebud and ensuring equal employment opportunities for future African-American applicants.”
Restaurants covered in the suit include The Rosebud, Carmine’s, Mama’s Boy, Rosebud Burger & Comfort Food, Joe Fish and Rosebud Steakhouse, among others. A handful of the restaurants have since been closed.
Rosebud Restaurants released a statement on the matter, saying:
“The Consent Decree between Rosebud Restaurants and EEOC was finalized today in the best interests of our employees, staff and patrons. We are committed to operating with integrity and conduct business in an ethical and legal manner, and we understand that we all can do more to demonstrate our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”
“For more than thirty-five years, Rosebud Restaurants has proudly served the Chicagoland community with more than 900 current employees,” the company added. “We consider it our mission to treat our employees as family – with honesty and respect – and we are proud of our employment record and the diversity of our workforce. We have not, do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any type toward employees or applicants.”