Age Discrimination in the Restaurant Industry and What You Can Do if It Happens to You in Georgia

Back in 2018, a major restaurant chain headquartered in neighboring Florida paid out roughly $2.85 million to settle an age discrimination class action. While that was one of the more headline-grabbing cases of age discrimination in the restaurant and foodservice industry, it is far from the only one. Indeed, one of the most recent alleged occurrences comes from right here in North Georgia. What these cases have in common is that the workers took prompt legal action, which is absolutely essential to getting justice for the harm you suffered. If you’ve encountered discrimination at work because you’re age 40 or older, you should waste no time in getting in touch with an experienced Atlanta age discrimination lawyer.

That North Georgia age discrimination case involved a man in his 50s who had worked at a Roswell coffee shop for five years when the shop, which was a part of a major Seattle-based chain of coffee shops, fired him in July 2021. The man was a “Store Manager” when the shop fired him.

According to his lawsuit, his termination was part of a larger, concerted scheme by the employer to weed out older managerial employees and replace them with younger managers. This allegedly included firing workers who had been with the company for several years and “who did not have a history of written disciplinary action.”

The manager’s lawsuit alleged that he had not “been formally written up or disciplined for any reason” in the last 3-4 years, and his most recent performance assessment graded him as “excellent.” The person who replaced him at the Roswell shop allegedly was in their 20s or 30s.

His termination allegedly was abrupt and he was not offered the sort of progressive discipline that the employer provided to younger employees, as the employer fired him without even putting him on a performance improvement plan first.

Georgia’s Laws Protecting Against Workplace Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is one area where the state has a specific law addressing it. The Georgia Age Discrimination Act says that employers in this state may not discriminate against workers age 40 to 70 unless the nature of the work is such that making an age-based distinction is necessary. The statute applies to all employers in this state, regardless of size, both public and private.

How Do I Start Litigating My Age Discrimination Case?

In this state, the law requires you to file a complaint with the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity if your claim involves an alleged violation of the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act. However, that statute applies only to public employers, which necessarily means that filing with the GCEO is only something you’d do if you worked for a public employer. If you worked for a private entity, as the coffee shop manager did, this filing process is not required.

However, an agency filing may still be needed. Most people harmed by workplace age discrimination will benefit from bringing claims under both the GADA and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Before you can proceed to court on an ADEA claim, you generally must file with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and get what’s called a “right to sue” letter from that agency first.

Be aware that this step has a very strict time limit. The federal law says that you must file your claim with the EEOC within 180 days of the date that the discrimination occurred. That is clearly a tight time window, so getting knowledgeable legal counsel as soon as possible is of the utmost importance.

A timely response to the discrimination you endured at work is vital, and that is never more true than if the discrimination you encountered was based on age. To make sure your rights are protected, get in touch with the Atlanta age discrimination attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert right away. Our firm has handled countless age discrimination cases and knows how to get results for workers like you. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation.

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