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PRESS RELEASE
9-7-11

Outback Steakhouse Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Company Fired Employee Because of Disability And/or Because He Needed a Reasonable Accommodation

PHOENIX — A Phoenix, Ariz., Outback Steakhouse restaurant violated federal law by firing an employee on the basis of his disability and/or because he needed a reasonable accommodation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit against OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC d/b/a Outback Steakhouse and OS Restaurant Services, Inc., server John Woods, who suffers from traumatic brain injury, worked as a server from November, 2009 until approximately January, 2010, when he was fired. The EEOC charged that Outback terminated Woods’ employment because of his disability and/or because he needed a reasonable accommodation.

Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which prohibits private employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC d/b/a Outback Steakhouse and OS Restaurant Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-01754-NVW) in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Woods, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.

“Recent amendments to the ADA make clear that the protections for persons with disabilities should be broadly applied,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. “The ADA, as amended, was intended to ensure that workers with disabilities have equal employment opportunities. Terminating an employee because he is disabled or because he needed a reasonable accommodation is unlawful.”

EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “We will vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. The EEOC continues to fight for the rights of people discriminated against because they are disabled.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.