A former server of Chili’s has filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the restaurant chain for sex discrimination. The server, who is lesbian, claimed that she was denied an opportunity to advance and then forced to leave her job following comments by upper management about her attire.
The charge, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the server, claims that she had recently began the training program to become a manager at Chili’s, which included attending the Certified Shift Leader Program. According to the EEOC charge, she wore a men’s button-up shirt, fitted slacks, and boat shoes — an outfit similar to what male managers at Chili’s wear. Following the program and during a later interview, the general manager stated that she had dressed inappropriately. “We really want to hire you,” he told her. “However, we need you to dress more gender appropriate.” When she asked why she could not wear a chef-style coat like the one her general manager wore, he answered, “It’s for boys.”
Following her decision to leave Chili’s, the former server discovered that the same manager had passed her over for a bartender position because he “didn’t want a gay girl behind the bar.” Following the filing of the charge, the ACLU stated on their blog, “All too often, women and people of the LGBTQ community are excluded from opportunities at work and school because they don’t look the part. In this case, her boss told her she wouldn’t advance professionally because she did not look feminine enough.”
In New York City, there are laws aimed to protect the LGBTQ community against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.