Cracker Barrel restaurant chain settles suits alleging discrimination against black customers

Thursday, September 9th 2004, 11:42 am
By: News On 6

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The Cracker Barrel restaurant chain has agreed to pay $8.7 million to settle lawsuits that accused it of discriminating against black customers, the company and a plaintiffs' lawyer said Thursday.

``This matter has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction and the parties are now ready to move forward,'' said Donald Turner, Cracker Barrel's president and chief operating officer.

The plaintiffs' attorney, David Sanford, said the settlement ``represents good closure to a bad period.''

At least 42 plaintiffs, including the NCAAP, accused the Lebanon, Tenn.-based company of discrimination in federal lawsuits filed in Georgia.

In the suits, black customers said they were subjected to racial slurs, denied service, segregated in smoking sections or served food taken from the trash. The suits said Cracker Barrel management ignored or condoned such actions.

Earlier this year, Cracker Barrel settled a Justice Department lawsuit alleging similar discrimination at its restaurants. The company agreed to a number of operational changes but did not admit any wrongdoing and paid no fines or penalties.

That settlement included a finding that black customers at many of the country store-themed restaurants were treated poorly and that those who complained about poor service also were treated less favorably than whites.

Cracker Barrel operates 505 restaurants in 41 states.