Burger Battle: Suit Says In-N-Out Discriminates

Chain "aggressively defends" itself against "baseless and irresponsible" charges. Does a tight job market boost age, sex and race discrimination, or just promote complaints from unsuccessful applicants? Vote in our poll.


A Berkeley law firm filed a class action lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court Tuesday alleging that In-N-Out Burger discriminates on the basis of race, color and age.

This cases raises a wider issue than the burger battle:

  1. does a tight job market boost age, sex and/or race discrimination?
  2. or do unsuccessful applicants blame discrimination for being passed over? 

The plaintiffs in the In-N-Out case are two, 40-plus black men from Oakland.

They applied for burger-flipping jobs in Oakland and San Francisco but weren't hired -- allegedly because the chain "recruits, hires and maintains a work force that is predominantly under the age of 40 and/or non-African-American," according to the lawsuit.

Steve Tidrick, the attorney for the plaintiffs, seeks back pay as well as compensatory damages and punitive damages for the two men and others allegedly denied jobs for these causes.

In-N-Out Burger vice president and general counsel Arnie Wensinger said: "We hire from our local communities and our restaurants reflect the demographics of that community. The company will aggressively defend itself against these baseless and irresponsible allegations."

The Irvine-based chain has 210 restaurants in California.

The courts will decide this case.

But we can ask: in a tight job market, when employers can pick and choose, do age, sex and race discrimination tend to rise, or are there just more sour grapes from unsuccessful applicants?

Leave a comment and vote in our poll.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Fred Eiger September 07, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Why didn't these guys apply to Hooters? lol
Robert September 07, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Lawyers looking for out of court settlement. More than likely trying to blackmail them with Chick-fil-A type results. Sounds like a "Rainbow Coalition" tactic.
Tom Abate September 07, 2012 at 09:11 PM
A spokesperson for In'N'Out sent this additional comment: "The allegations in the lawsuit have no basis in fact. The two stores where the two plaintiffs apparently applied for jobs have a workforce that is more than 23% African American."
Dan Arnhem September 07, 2012 at 10:22 PM
How many of the workers in both stores are over age 40? Suppose you needed a job and were over 40, or 50, or even 60, should you be eliminated from consideration for a job at those locations? With the crash in our economy, in future years, there will be millions of older workers who will be unable to retire at 65. Do we allow them to simply be discarded from consideration because they are over 40, or 50, or 60 ? If so, you are going to see a flood of old folks on the street. This economic downturn is still fresh, only 5 years old. The after effects will entirely change the pattern of aging in our society. There will be great turmoil in about 10 years as the effects of this Great Recession continue to be felt. Age discrimination laws will have to be beefed up. If you don't allow them to work, do you think they'll just go away and die? or will they need welfare and who will pay for that given the projections in Soc. Sec. , Medicare, and every other social welfare program. Better get with it and make jobs open to older Americans or you pay one way or the other. The reality of this tidal wave is less than 10 years away. If In-N-Out want to serve older folks, then they should be willing to hire some of them.
Linda St Denis September 11, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I see all demographics at In and Outs. Not so much in the age category. Without knowing more specifics about the plaintiffs it's hard to take one side or the other.


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