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February 15th, 2012

Civil rights group calls on Darden to desegregate

New York, NY - ColorofChange has launched a campaign calling on Darden Restaurants, the owners and operators of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse and the Capital Grille, to respond to a set of demands put forth by its workers in a recent lawsuit. The civil rights organization has joined forces with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United), the group representing the workers in their lawsuit. In just three days, more than 45,000 ColorOfChange members have signed a petition calling on Darden to institute a promotions policy that allows Black workers to advance to high-paid positions at the Capital Grille, the only restaurant within the company where workers can earn a living wage.

"Black workers are discriminated against throughout the restaurant industry. They are routinely told that they don’t have the right look for the waitstaff and bartender jobs at the fine dining restaurants that pay good wages," said ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson. "Darden is facing a lawsuit that says the company is guilty of maintaining this pattern. Our members are concerned by reports that the company’s hiring and promotions practices discriminate against Black job seekers. We’re demanding that new policies be put in place."

In an email to its members late last week, ColorOfChange explained that there’s no clear pipeline at Darden for workers to get from jobs at Red Lobster and Olive Garden to that higher-paid work at their high-end restaurant. The email goes on to explain that this discrimination is occurring in one of the few industries that’s growing during our current recession. But despite the growth in this sector, Black workers are routinely pushed into the industry’s poverty-wage jobs.

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