OAKLAND -- A specialized menu is not the only secret popular fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger has, a law firm has alleged in a class-action lawsuit filed against the Orange County company.
According to the Tidrick Law Firm, In-N-Out Burger also has an illegal practice of refusing to hire African-Americans and applicants older than 40 years old.
The lawsuit stems from the experiences of two Bay Area men who tried to get jobs at the chain's San Francisco and Oakland outlets. Both men are more than 40 years old and African-American and both were rejected for jobs, the lawsuit claims, despite the advertising of open positions at the two restaurants.
The lawsuit claims that both men were qualified for the positions they sought but were told that In-N-Out was not hiring even though both were told beforehand that the stores were hiring.
The first example occurred in June when Alonzo Brown applied for a store associate job at In-N-Out Burger in Oakland. Brown met with the store manager, the lawsuit says, and was told the company was hiring but about two months later he was denied a job.
In May 2012, Carlos Dubose applied for a cleanup associate job at the In-N-Out Burger at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. At the time, he submitted his application, the lawsuit states, the company had an advertisement on its website stating that it was "accepting applications for all shifts."
Dubose was denied the job in San Francisco so he
"These are not isolated examples of employment practices or individual decisions," the lawsuit states. "On the contrary, these incidents are representative of the Company's systematic discrimination against the Class and in favor of applicants who are under the age of forty and/or not African American."
Arnie Wensinger, vice president and general counsel for the Irvine-based chain, denied the accusations in a statement pointing out that more than 23 percent of the workforce at the company's Oakland and San Francisco restaurants is African-American.
"The allegations in the lawsuit have no basis in fact," Wensinger said. "In-N-Out Burger does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race or age in our hiring policies or practices. We hire from our local communities and our restaurants reflect the demographics of that community.
"The company will aggressively defend itself against these baseless and irresponsible allegations," Wensinger's statement continued.