Buckhead brewery ordered to pay Black chef $115K for Civil Rights Act violation

A now-closed Buckhead brewery has been ordered to pay one of its former chefs $115,000 after a federal race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in March against Iron Hill Brewery on Peachtree Road and its parent company, saying that the chain violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Officials claim the brewery fired a Black sous chef in training after he made two complaints to management about the alleged mistreatment of Hispanic and female employees.

The lawsuit reported that one of the employee's complaints was that the brewery was not providing a safe and private space for women to express breast milk.

After making the complaints, the EEOC's lawsuit claims the employee received "unwarranted disciplinary action" and then was fired.

"Iron Hill stated that the firing was due to a violation of its ‘zero tolerance’ policy on workplace discrimination, even though the sous chef in training had not engaged in discriminatory behavior," a spokesperson for the EEOC wrote in a release when it filed the lawsuit. "Iron Hill refused to terminate, or even discipline, a white employee who several employees claimed violated Iron Hill’s discrimination policy with respect to Black employees. "

The agency says it filed the lawsuit in U.S. district court after they failed to reach a pre-litigation settlement with the brewery earlier this year.

With this new settlement, the company agreed to pay $115,000 and provide nationwide training to all its employees around Title VII as well as implement an anti-retaliation policy.

"The EEOC brought this lawsuit to defend an employee’s right to speak up about workplace discrimination," said Atlanta District Office Regional Attorney Marcus G. Keegan. "This settlement sends a strong message that the EEOC will continue to vindicate the rights of individuals with the courage to come forward to report discrimination against themselves or others in the workplace."

The Buckhead location of the brewery chain closed in early May. The company has one other location in Dunwoody.