Lesbian Sues Cracker Barrel For Discrimination


by 365Gay.com from the Web, February 13, 2006


Londonderry, New Hampshire -- Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores are once again facing allegations of discriminating against gay employees.

A Manchester, New Hampshire woman says she was harassed at the national chain's restaurant in Londonderry and that when she complained management reprimanded her.

Bonnie Usher, in a formal complaint to the New Hampshire human rights commission, says that she was groped by a fellow worker, propositioned and called a "dyke."

The complaint says that when she complained to her store managers, they did nothing at first, and then reprimanded her for complaining.

The company says it did nothing wrong.  But a state investigator found there is merit to Usher's allegations.

Usher is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an order from the commission that Cracker Barrel be forced to offer sensitivity and management training to its staff.

It is not the first time the chain, which has 544 restaurants and stores in 41 states, has been accused of anti-gay bias.

In 1991 the company issued a statement saying it would hire only employees who displayed "normal heterosexual values which have the foundation of families in our society."

The statement sparked a ten year battle with LGBT civil rights advocates. nDuring the 1990s Cracker Barrel reportedly fired at least 11 gay workers.

In 2002 CBRL Group Inc., the parent company of Cracker Barrel was ;involved in a showdown with shareholders over its anti-gay policy.

The company agreed to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation after a shareholder resolution garnered 58 percent of the vote.

In addition to accusations of bias against gays the company has been accused of discriminating against women and people of color.

Two years ago, Cracker Barrel settled a federal lawsuit over allegations that it would seat whites in its restaurants before African-Americans.  The company also has been sued by the federal government and workers who claimed female employees had been sexually harassed, assaulted and subjected to pornography.


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