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EEOC Sues Fayetteville Applebee’s for Sex Discrimination

Popular Restaurant Refused to Promote Qualified Female to Bartending Job Because of Her Sex, Federal Agency Charged

RALEIGH, N.C. – Apple Gold, Inc., doing business as Applebee’s, violated federal law by denying a promotion to a qualified female employee because of her sex, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The EEOC charged that a Fayetteville, N.C., Applebee’s discriminated against a server when the company failed to promote her to a bartending position because of her gender.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Amanda Antisdel worked as a server at the company’s Applebee’s restaurant at Raeford Road in Fayetteville, N.C., from around January 9, 2008 until around April 2009. Throughout her employment at Applebee’s, Antisdel excelled as a server, the EEOC said, and expressed interest in being promoted to a bartending position. Upon learning of an upcoming open bartender position in March 2009, Antisdel immediately informed the restaurant’s bar manager of her interest in the position. The bar manager assured Antisdel that as soon as the job became open she would be selected. The bar manager also permitted Antisdel to train behind the bar with the other bartenders for about three weeks.

Approximately three weeks after the company promised Antisdel the bartending job, which would have been a promotion for her, she learned that Applebee’s recruited a less qualified male for the open bartending position and placed him in the position. Although Antisdel met all the qualifications for the position and was the most qualified person for the position and had more seniority than the male employee, the company recruited and selected him because Applebee’s wanted a “straight male” behind the bar, the EEOC said.

Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Apple Gold Inc., d/b/a Applebee’s, Civ. No. 5:10-cv-00363) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. In its suit, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory, damages and punitive damages, rightful-place hiring and injunctive relief.

“Denying a person a promotion because of her sex is unjust and unlawful,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The EEOC will continue its fight for equality in the workplace for women and men, both of whom should be allowed an equal opportunity to compete in the workplace." 

According to company information, Apple Gold, Inc., headquartered in Raleigh, is one of the largest franchised restaurant operators in the United States. In 2007 Applebee’s operated 72 restaurants in three states (North Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas), and had sales in excess of $145 billion.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at