CHICAGO (STMW) — Several popular Chicago area restaurants have very few black employees, and it’s not a coincidence, according to the federal government, which filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging racial discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Chicago claiming racial discrimination in hiring practices by Chicago-based Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. and its affiliates.

The suit claims a number of Chicago area restaurants operated by Rosebud are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for failing or refusing to hire African Americans based on their race.

“Few black individuals” are employed at the restaurants owned by the chain, the suit claims.

Those include Carmine’s in Chicago; Rosebud Italian Country House and Pizzeria in Deerfield; Rosebud of Highland Park; Rosebud Italian Specialties and Pizzeria in Naperville; Rosebud Burger and Comfort Foods in Naperville; Rosebud Old World Italian in Schaumburg; and several other Rosebud-owned and operated restaurants in Chicago, including Bar Umbriago, Ristorante Centro and Rosebud on Rush.

Alex Dana, Rosebud’s founder and owner, “has expressed a preference not to hire black job applicants,” the suit alleges. “As a result, few black individuals are employed at Defendants’ restaurants; indeed, at the time the underlying charge of discrimination was filed, most of Defendants’ restaurants had no black employees.”

A statement from Rosebud Restaurants denied the allegations.

“For more than thirty-five years, Rosebud Restaurants has proudly served the Chicagoland community with more than 900 current employees. We consider it our mission to treat our employees as family — with honesty and respect — and we are proud of our employment record and the diversity of our workforce.

“We have not, do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any type toward employees or applicants,” the statement said. “For that reason, we take very seriously the claims asserted by the U .S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and remain confident that this process will confirm that we operate with integrity and conduct business in an ethical and legal manner.”

However, according to the suit, Constance Barker filed a complaint in August 2012 alleging discrimination in hiring, and a subsequent EEOC investigation found Rosebud “failed to recruit and hire African-Americans.”

The EEOC met with Rosebud in an attempt to “eliminate” the problem through informal meetings and discussions, but was “unable to obtain an agreement” so the suit was filed.

The EEOC is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

“The effect of the unlawful employment practices … has been to deprive a class of African-Americans of equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect their status because of their race,” the suit states.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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