Fired server charges Weber Grill with age bias

By Becky Yerak
Posted Nov. 23, 2010 at 12:22 p.m.

A 46-year-old Chicago man who lost his server job at Weber Grill on State Street last year alleges that a 30-year-old restaurant manager fired him because she thought he was  “too old for the fast pace of the restaurant.”

Bruce Belson alleges in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in a federal court in Chicago that he was terminated in January 2009 after about nine months of working at the 539 N. State St. restaurant.

“I believe that I was replaced with a younger, less qualified individual,” an exhibit in the case filing said.

In his suit, Belson said that throughout his Weber Grill employment he “performed his job duties to defendant’s legitimate expectations.”

“Weber Grill Restaurant has — and always will — pride ourselves on being an equal opportunity employer,” said Meghan Parra, marketing director of Weber Grill.

On Aug. 30, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued Belson a “notice of right to sue,” noting that the agency was closing his case and that under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, he had 90 days to sue in U.S. or state court. In July 2009, Belson had filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, according to an exhibit in Tuesday’s lawsuit.

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  1. CGull Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Obviously Weber Grill needs to brush up on their understanding of EEOC guidelines, as age discrimination is blatantly against the law. What is more, with Bruce Belson filing his lawsuit against Weber Grill, the burden of proof will be on THEM once this thing goes before the judge, not him. And that, whether Weber Grill likes it or not, is the law.

  2. Not a Lawyer Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I am by no means a lawyer, but if the Illinois Department of Human Rights did not claim it was discrimination, then how can he sue? Why waste our taxpayers money on trying to get a settlement when the case has already been closed by the state? This is why our state and others are going deeper and deeper into the red.

  3. Active Nov. 23, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    There are two ways to sue for discrimination. You can go through EEOC and hope they want to pursuethe case or you can do it privately in which case you take the risk of spending a lot of money and getting nothing. Taxpayers are not involved in this method which is what he is doing now. Basically in this method you hope (and this is what happend most of the time) to settle out of court.

  4. Betty Trock Nov. 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Don’t assume that the restaurant is in the wrong until the legal outcome of the case. I’m glad to be in a country where innocent until proven otherwise.

  5. Correction... Dec. 2, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    FindLaw states that age discrimination claims can be quite difficult to prove. Plaintiffs have the burden of proving that an adverse action was taken because of their age, which in this case may be difficult to prove unless Bruce Belson is able to call witnesses or provide hard evidence.