In an unusual twist, a national restaurant chain is facing a civil rights lawsuit for discriminating against male job candidates.
Ruby Tuesday, the ubiquitous chain of suburban family restaurants, is being sued by the government on behalf of male employees who were excluded from a “lucrative” temporary work assignment because they were male, according to the lawsuit.
What perhaps is most surprising about the case is that Ruby Tuesday was pretty upfront about wanting only women to apply for the positions, which would have meant an opportunity to earn extra money in a busy resort town, with housing provided by Ruby Tuesday.
The government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Oregon last week. The lawsuit claims that the internal job posting, which was distributed to stores in a nine-state region, violated equal opportunity employment laws from the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991.
“It’s rare to see an explicit example of sex discrimination like Ruby Tuesday’s internal job announcement,” EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said in a statement. “This suit is a cautionary tale to employers that sex-based employment decisions are rarely justified, and are not consistent with good business judgment.”
Ruby Tuesday apparently wanted to avoid having to find housing for both men and women, according to the EEOC. The company did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s requests for comment.
The EEOC complaint is being brought on behalf of two male employees: Andrew Herrera, who worked at an Oregon Ruby Tuesday, and Joshua Bell, who worked at a Ruby Tuesday in Republic, Mo. Both men say they were denied the opportunity to earn more money and save on rent because they were not allowed to compete for the jobs.
The company was seeking to fill seasonal bartender and server positions at its Park City, Utah, location with “an explicit and exclusive preference for female applicants,” according to court documents. In the end, Ruby Tuesday hired seven women and no men for the 2013 summer jobs.
“Mr. Herrera was a longtime employee of Ruby Tuesday who had regularly trained new hires at the Corvallis restaurant,” the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said in a statement. “He was shocked and angered that Ruby Tuesday would categorically exclude him and other male employees from a lucrative summer assignment based purely on stereotypes about his gender. The company could have addressed any real privacy concerns by providing separate housing units for each gender in Park City, but chose an unlawful option instead.”
The job announcement was distributed to restaurants in a region that included Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and Utah.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of financial damages and back pay for Herrera, Bell and other men who might have been affected.