Older California workers are protected from age discrimination by state and federal laws. However, some companies still purposely hire a disproportionate number of younger workers, leaving themselves vulnerable to legal action.

For example, the Seasons 52 restaurant chain has agreed to pay almost $3 million to settle a class action age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The chain is owned by Darden Restaurants Inc., a Florida-based firm that also owns Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and Yard House. According to the lawsuit, Seasons 52 regularly passed over applicants over the age of 40 for positions in the front and back of the restaurant. The behavior affected at least 254 plaintiffs at 35 restaurant locations across the U.S.

To support the case, the EEOC provided sworn testimony from 135 applicants stating that Seasons 52 managers made overtly discriminatery comments during interviews. In fact, one plaintiff said he was plainly told that the chain doesn’t hire “old white guys”. As part of the settlement, which was announced on May 3, the company will provide financial compensation to all applicants who were discriminated against due to their age. The restaurant chain is further required to change its hiring practices to include older workers and to appoint a compliance monitor to ensure it follows the terms of the settlement.

According to the EEOC, age discrimination is one of the most common forms of workplace discrimination in the U.S. Individuals who believe they have suffered age discrimination may benefit from filing a complaint with state and/or federal authorities. An employment law attorney could review the case and recommend the best ways to document the allegations.

Source: FOX News, “‘Old white guys’ weren’t hired, so restaurant chain to pay $3M in age bias settlement“, Gregg Re, May 4, 2018