Ex-Restuarant Employee Settles Suit
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ A discrimination suit filed on behalf of a former employee of an Olive Garden restaurant has been settled for $125,000.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement Wednesday and said it had been submitted to U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe for approval.
The company, based in Orlando, Fla., admitted no liability.
The suit was filed on behalf of Jody Terrio, about 36, of Concord. He worked as a dishwasher at the restaurant about four years until he was fired in 1998, lawyer Markus Penzel of the EEOC’s Boston office said. The suit was filed in February 2001.
Terrio since has been employed as a dishwasher elsewhere in the Concord area, Penzel said.
The suit alleged management and co-workers of The Olive Garden in Concord subjected Terrio to almost daily physical and verbal abuse relating to his mental retardation, including putting him in a headlock, pulling down his pants in front of co-workers and offensive name-calling and teasing.
The suit asked for financial compensation without naming an amount.
The settlement also called for The Olive Garden, which has about 478 restaurants and more than 60,000 employees, to provide nationwide training for its managers on disability-based harassment and reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities.
``We are pleased that The Olive Garden worked cooperatively with the commission to settle this claim quickly after the lawsuit was filed, and that it is committed to providing a positive work environment for qualified individuals with disabilities, including those with mental retardation,″ said Katherine Bissell, regional lawyer of the EEOC’s New York District office.
In a statement, Bill Holmes, a company vice president, said that ``although we have denied liability in this case, we have worked with the EEOC to reach a fair settlement.
``Olive Garden has an uncompromising standard that all guests and employees will be treated with respect and dignity and we are proud of our long history of providing employment opportunities for all people,″ Holmes said.