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Thu, 09.09.2004

Cracker Barrel Restaurant Admits to Racism

On this date in 2004, the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain agreed to an $8.7 million settlement to resolve all lawsuits brought or supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The civil rights organization accused the restaurant chain of segregating blacks in the smoking section and denying them service.

“This matter has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction, and the parties are now ready to move forward,” said Donald Turner, the chain's president and chief operating officer. David Sanford, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, “Cracker Barrel is very pleased with this settlement,” and the settlement “represents good closure to a bad period.” At least 42 plaintiffs, including the NAACP, accused a Lebanon, TN-based company of discrimination in federal lawsuits filed in Georgia.

Black customers in 16 states also said they were subjected to racial slurs and served food taken from the trash, while Cracker Barrel management ignored or condoned such actions. The announcement comes four months after the company settled a Justice Department lawsuit accusing Cracker Barrel of similar discrimination claims at dozens of restaurants, mainly in the South.

That settlement found that black customers at many of the country store-themed restaurants were seated in areas segregated from white patrons, frequently received inferior service, and often were made to wait longer for tables. Blacks who complained about poor service also were treated less favorably than whites.

Cracker Barrel operates over 500 restaurants in 41 states.

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