EEOC sues Whataburger over 'directive to hire only white applicants'

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed last week that Whataburger Restaurants LLC violated federal law when it retaliated against a white restaurant manager because she opposed, and refused to participate in, upper management's directive to hire only white applicants, a news release from the federal agency said.

The suit said that Whataburger general and area managers demanded that a white restaurant manager in Tallahassee, Florida, hire only white applicants because Whataburger wanted "the faces behind the counter to match the customer base." 

Further, the restaurant manager was allegedly told to review the names on applications, identify those names that sounded Caucasian, and interview only those applicants.

According to the release, the manager told the EEOC that she refused to participate in the hiring directive and was "subjected to an ongoing pattern of retaliatory conduct including verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, a drastic change in schedule, and unwarranted discipline." As a result, the commission said the manager ended up resigning the position. 

The allegations constitute violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and as such, have been detailed in a case in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division. The EEOC said attempts to reach a prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process failed.

"Employees who oppose unlawful practices should feel secure in exercising that right," EEOC Miami District Office District Director Michael Farrell, said in the release. 

The Miami District Office jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Topics: Human Resources, Legal Issues

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