Dear Darden CEO Clarence Otis, Jr.,
I am writing to demand that you act now to address discrimination against Black workers within your company.
Across the restaurant industry, Black workers earn on average $4 less per hour than White workers. A look at the de facto segregation within Darden explains why this is the case. Workers of color are relegated to lower-paying jobs while White workers are hired into the front-of-the-house and chef jobs, including those at your fine-dining restaurant, Capital Grille.
I understand that you are now facing a lawsuit as a result of your employment practices. I ask that you sign an agreement with the employees in the lawsuit to institute a promotions policy that's in line with EEOC standards and that allows at least 50% of non-management staff to advance to livable wage positions, including waitstaff and bartending positions, at the Capital Grille.
At a time when Black unemployment is nearly twice the national average and the private sector is being heralded as our greatest hope, Darden’s pattern of relegating Black workers to the lowest-wage work is unconscionable. Darden’s behavior indicates that you doubt that Black restaurant workers can wield nuanced knowledge of food and drink and provide top-notch service. If that’s not the case, institute an promotions system that allows Black workers to compete for jobs at Darden’s fine-dining restaurants.