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Oh, Crikey! Aussie-themed Restaurant to Pay $19 Million in Lawsuit

Source: Business Journal

Posted on 30 Dec 2009

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The parent company of the Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse chain, OSI Restaurant Partners, will pay $19 million to settle a gender discrimination class-action lawsuit being tried in Colorado. The settlement, which is funded entirely by insurance, includes no finding of fault on the part of Outback, according to OSI.

"Hopefully this major settlement will remind employers about the perils of perpetuating promotion practices that keep women from advancing at work," says Stuart Ishimaru, acting chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC had claimed in a federal lawsuit filed in Colorado District Court that female employees at Outback failed to get promoted to higher-level, profit-sharing management positions at restaurants. Women also were denied favorable job assignments, particularly in kitchen management, which was required for employees to be considered for the top management job in the restaurants, the EEOC said.

The lawsuit, filed in September 2006, will make the $19 million award available to all female workers employed at corporate-owned Outback restaurant from 2002 to the present who have at least three years of experience.

Outback also will employ a human-resources executive in the newly created position of vice president of people. And it will hires an outside consultant who will ensure women are being provided equal opportunities for promotion.

The chain has agreed to report to EEOC every six months to review its policies in carrying out the settlement.