July 31st, 2003 - Posted at 7:31 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. --The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant chain is the target of a federal racial discrimination lawsuit filed in Little Rock by 23 black people.
Little Rock attorney Philip Kaplan says Cracker Barrel had shown a pattern of discrimination and claims that corporate policies support the alleged actions. Kaplan said a similar lawsuit filed last year in Georgia will provide supporting evidence that these were more than isolated incidents.
Cracker Barrel's vice president for human resources, Norm Hill, says the allegations are baseless. Hill, who is black, says the nation has race problems but Cracker Barrel is innocent of the allegations.
The plaintiffs claim they were made to wait longer for tables than white customers, were seated in smoking sections when nonsmoking tables were available and that they received slower service. The plaintiffs say they were rebuked when they complained to managers. The suit seeks monetary damages and revised policies. Cracker Barrel says the claims are unfounded and are part of a wider attempt to discredit the company.