Cracker Barrel restaurants agreed upon Monday to overhaul their training and management practices after the Justice Department accused the nation-style chain of wide-spread discrimination against black diners within 50 locations. A civil rights investigation learned that black diners at Cracker Barrels in seven Southern states were routinely given tables apart from whites, seated after white clients who arrived later, and given low quality service, the department said in informing the negotiation.
Managers allowed white servers to refuse to wait patiently on black patrons, and blacks were given less favorable treatment than whites when they complained about service, investigators found. Interviews with a large number of employees suggested that managers ”often directed, took part in, or condoned the discriminatory behavior,” the department said.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a chain located in Tennessee which includes 497 locations nationwide and is renowned for its country-style cooking and folksy retail stores, denied the accusations in a lawsuit the Justice Department filed on Monday in Georgia. But in an agreement filed using the lawsuit, the company agreed to wide-ranging steps to combat discrimination against black diners. One of them are new training programs, random testing by undercover diners, the posting of nondiscrimination statements on menus, and also the hiring of an outside auditor.
The agreement ”moves https://allfoodmenuprices.org/cracker-barrel-menu forward in a direction we had been already moving,” said Julie Davis, a business spokeswoman. She said that while Cracker Barrel failed to believe the accusations, it agreed to the six-point plan partly to prevent ”protracted, distracting, costly, multiyear litigation.”
The laws under which the suit was brought failed to allow the department to find money. But recently some 100 blacks have pressed discrimination claims and they are seeking money from your company in four lawsuits in Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. Stores there and in Alabama, Louisiana and Virginia were subjects of the department investigation.
”It’s shocking that something such as this still happens forty years after the passage of civil rights legislation,” said Heidi Doerhoff, a Washington lawyer involved in the Arkansas and Mississippi lawsuits. ”It harkens to the rear-of-the-bus management of African-Americans.”
Ms. Doerhoff said the widespread discrimination detected by the department was similar to the experiences from the dozens of plaintiffs. One black employee with a Cracker Barrel in Mississippi stated that white waitresses kaiypp pay her $3 per table to serve their black customers, Ms. Doerhoff said. And a black diner claimed that when he complained to your manager that whites were treated better, he was told he should go to Burger King, she said.
Her one disappointment, Ms. Doerhoff said, was that Cracker Barrel ”is unwilling to admit that it’s done anything wrong.” ”They’re still fighting tooth and nail against all the private plaintiffs,” she said. In past months, some civil rights advocates and Democrats in Congress have accused the Bush administration of failing to aggressively pursue civil rights cases, particularly those involving patterns of corporate misconduct, and they also said they worried that cases like Cracker Barrel’s were permitted to lag.
But R. Alexander Acosta, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said that the agreement filed on Monday demonstrated the Justice Department’s resolve. ”Where we discover evidence, while we did here, that individuals for any race are receiving anything lower than full and equal use of public accommodations, we will act,” Mr. Acosta said. The N.A.A.C.P. as well as other civil rights advocates stated that the requirements imposed on Cracker Barrel sent a solid message but the test in the company’s image would be whether or not the plaintiffs won money.
”It’s unclear if this will be a large black eye,” said John Relman, a legal representative whose discrimination lawsuits from the Denny’s restaurant chain in the early 1990’s helped lead to a $54 million settlement. ”What happens with those lawsuits will really determine whether Cracker Barrel gains the kind of notoriety that Denny’s did.”