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Razzoo's restaurant settles discrimination suit

Razzoo's Cajun Cafe restaurant chain has agreed to pay $1 million and take other steps to settle charges that it discriminated against male employees and potential employees by limiting the hiring and promotion of men to bartender positions.

The settlement was announced by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which had brought a discrimination lawsuit against Razzoo's.

The EEOC had pursued formal charges against the Addison-based company, which, the agency said in a news release, had "communicated to managers by e-mail a plan for an 80-20 ratio of women to men" bartenders.

"Some may think that sex sells drinks, but gender ratios are illegal," Suzanne Richardson, the lead EEOC attorney handling the case, said in the news release. "Razzoo's' decision to hire and promote by gender is a clear violation of federal law."

Razzoo's response

Bob Luxen, an attorney for the Addison based company, said that Razzoo's never discriminated against "any employee or applicant" and that there never was an 80-20 policy.

In the consent decree settling the case, Razzoo's denies the actions.

"We never discriminated in the past. We will not in the future," Luxen said. "The EEOC had projected the trial in this case would take four weeks, which would have been every expensive and very disruptive for Razzoo's. We think we would have won the trial. We think the EEOC would have appealed, so we decided to settle this matter."

Terms of the deal

Razzoo's agreed to pay $775,000 that will be divided among male employees who allegedly were discriminated against. The company also agreed to spend at least $225,000 to hire a human-resources consultant or set up its own in-house human-resources department.

Razzoo's operates nine restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth one in Houston and another in North Carolina. It plans to open a Cedar Hill location in July.