FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, May 3, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
SUMMARY OF THE CRACKER BARREL CONSENT ORDER
The Department of Justice today announced the settlement of a lawsuit alleging racial
discrimination against African-American customers by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., a
nationwide family restaurant chain. The agreement, filed with the U. S. District Court for the
Northern District of Georgia, still requires court approval.
The consent order, which will last up to five years, commits Cracker Barrel to abide by
Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and requires it to make changes in several major areas.
The injunction forbids Cracker Barrel from:
Creation and adoption of a revised customer non-discrimination policy
Cracker Barrel has already revised its non-discrimination policy designed to avoid
discrimination against customers. The policy is designed to ensure that Cracker Barrel complies
with the injunction that is the center of today's agreement.
Communication to company managers and employees
Within 15 days after the court approves the settlement, the company must give a copy of the revised customer non-discrimination policy to all of its employees. The company will then have an additional 15 days to secure a signed acknowledgment from each employee, verifying that he or she has received, read and understood it.
Within 30 days after the court approves settlement, the revised customer non-discrimination policy must be: posted in the employee break room at each restaurant location;
included in future publications of the employee handbook; placed in all internal written study
guides that Cracker Barrel uses to teach employees who want to receive a promotion; and placed
on the company web site.
Communication to the public
Within 30 days, each Cracker Barrel store must post in its vestibule a sign that states the
In the spirit of pleasing people, we invite everyone regardless of race,
color, disability, or national origin, to enjoy our restaurant and old
country store. Since 1969, we have tried our best to provide food and
service in ways that uphold our traditions of genuine quality. If you
feel we have not delivered on this promise, please let us know. 1-800-333-9566 or www.crackerbarrel.com
The company will also list its toll-free number and/or web site on at least one "table tent,"
a small cardboard sign, placed on each table and at the bottom of each customer's receipt.
Implementation of an Improved Customer Non-discrimination Training Program
Beginning in 2004, Cracker Barrel's top management, including its general managers and
district managers, will be required to attend an annual training workshop. All associate and
senior associate managers will view a videotape of this training workshop and attend a question-and-answer session led by the district manager. All managers will also be required to complete
an annual e-learning program.
All non-management employees must complete a form of customer non-discrimination
training lasting at least 45 minutes. Additionally, all managers hired after the initial training
program will attend a manager's training workshop within 90 days of hire. All hourly employees
hired after the initial training will view the videotape and/or successfully complete an e-learning
program about customer discrimination within 60 days of hire.
Creation of the Investigation Department
By August 1, 2004, Cracker Barrel will create a new Investigation Department that will
be responsible for investigating all customer complaints based on race, color, or national origin.
Managers will be allowed to address any concerns of customers who make discrimination
complaints at the store level. However, managers will be required to report all complaints about
potential customer discrimination to company headquarters, even if the manager satisfactorily
resolved the complaint. In addition, managers will be required to: accept complaints, either from
the customer or from any third party, and obtain all relevant information relating to the alleged
The Investigation Department, not the managers, will have the responsibility and the
authority to investigate all customer complaints involving or suspected to involve alleged
discrimination based on race or color and to make determinations as to whether or not there is a
basis for each complaint.
All managers and employees will be required to cooperate with these investigations, and
Cracker Barrel will provide the Investigation Department with the documents it needs to reach an
Hiring of an Auditor
Cracker Barrel will hire an Auditor who will: periodically review reports generated by the
Investigation Department; review the internal customer non-discrimination training materials and
various policies; review the procedures relating to the identification and handling of customer
complaints based on race and color; and audit its overall compliance with the consent order.
The Auditor, who will be independent of Cracker Barrel, will have the right to hire
whatever staff is necessary to fulfill these oversight obligations. Cracker Barrel will pay all costs
of the Auditor and staff.
All managers and employees will be required to cooperate to the fullest extent possible
with the Auditor. Additionally, the Auditor will apprize the Department of Justice of Cracker
Barrel's progress in complying with the Consent Order.
Participation in a Testing Program
Cracker Barrel will pay an independent firm to set up a "testing program" designed to
ensure that all Cracker Barrel customers receive equal treatment.
Under the testing program, two teams - each consisting of an equal number of persons
who are similarly matched on personal characteristics except for race or color - will visit the
same Cracker Barrel store at different times (within a relatively short period of time) and then
compare their treatment to make sure each team was treated the same.
No one at Cracker Barrel, including its management, will know ahead of time which
stores are being tested, when or by whom. If the tests show discrimination at any store, the
testing company will inform Cracker Barrel, the auditor and the Justice Department. Cracker
Barrel will take appropriate corrective action.
During the first year of the consent decree, the testing company will conduct 250 tests of
various Cracker Barrel stores throughout the country. During the remaining years of the consent
decree, the testing company will conduct proportionally fewer tests based in part on any
accumulated evidence of continued discrimination.
Length of the Consent Order
The Consent Order will last five years. If, however, after four years Cracker Barrel has
been in "substantial compliance" with the decree for at least the past two years, Cracker Barrel
may ask the court to end the order.
Cracker Barrel will report on its progress to the Justice Department every three months
during the first year of the Order and every six months during subsequent years. These reports
will explain all steps that Cracker Barrel has taken during that time period to comply with the
In addition, the Auditor will prepare reports every three months during the first year of
the order and every six months afterward. These reports will recount the results of all testing
conducted during that period and will contain information about customer complaints and
information about any discipline and remedial training.
Furthermore, the Justice Department will have the right to review relevant Cracker Barrel
documents during the duration of the order.
If Cracker Barrel fails to comply with the terms of the order, the Justice Department has
the right to ask a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to require
the company to comply.