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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19686
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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We just formed a company and purchased a restaurant. We did

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We just formed a company and purchased a restaurant. We did not hire one of the bartenders due to the fact that several customers left when she arrived due to her attitude. This female is an African American and now is trying to take us to court stating that we did not hire her due to this fact. She was the only African American in our employ and she is using this as her basis. Does she have a legal case?

Thank you for the information and your question. First, it is very important that you immediately hire an experienced employment law firm that represents employers to assist you with this now that the other party has an attorney and the EEOC may be involved. They will be able to gather all of the facts, including the facts as asserted from the other party, and determine what your best course of action is. However, if the facts were only as you presented them, then she would not ultimately win a law suit. In other words, if you have evidence that backs up your statements about a non-discriminatory reason for not retaining/hiring her, and there were no other such examples for the other bartenders that you retained, then she would not ultimately prevail. However, these cases can be protracted and expensive (legal fees), so your attorney may ultimately recommend you make a "nuisance" settlement offer in exchange for her release of any potential legal liability. The settlement amount in those cases usually isn't very much, just a few thousand dollars, and they make the case go away.

In the end though, I have no idea what facts she will assert and what evidence that she has about her termination, so important that you have legal representation soon. If this goes to the EEOC, they will initially try to get you and this employee to mediate and settle. If that isn't successful, they will do an investigation and then decide whether or not to take the case and file suit themselves or issue her a "right to sue" letter and then she would have to file suit or let it go.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If we were able to get signed documents from customers stating that they left the restaurant as soon as she came in due to her attitude, would that be sufficient enough?. They also complained that she could not reach the glasses on the bar and had to have the customers put them closer to her so she could get them.

Although a written and notarized statement might be enough initially, they would ultimately have to be available for depositions or interviews by either the EEOC or the attorneys if this case went further. You definitely don't want to raise the issue of her height and reach because then that creates a gender discrimination issue. I really do think you need to sit down with an attorney who can interview these customers. If they had a bias against her because of her race or gender, then that really doesn't help your case very much, even if you did not know of that bias. These cases are multidimensional and aren't decided just based on one thing. The EEOC and the courts will look at who you retained and who you didn't and what your rationale was for each decision.
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