Grille 86 applicant may sue over possible age discrimination

Romano said he’s not interested in a big settlement, but feels like he was denied a job at Grille 86 without a good reason. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

A 38-year-old chef said he is considering suing Grille 86 after the restaurant wrote on Facebook that they did not hire him because of his age.

Jason Romano, a Mansfield resident who recently moved from North Carolina, commented on one of Grille 86’s Facebook posts Sunday that he had not heard back after applying for a job.

“Probably because we don’t need 50 year old bartenders,” the restaurant wrote in response.

Romano said he applied to work as a chef, not a bartender.

“I have 24 years of being a professional chef,” he said. “I washed pots and pans at 14 years old for like six bucks an hour, and by the time I was 16 I was running a line in the kitchen.”

Romano said he contacted the law firm Cicchiello & Cicchiello in Hartford, which specializes in employment law.

Grille 86 said in a separate Facebook comment that the employee responsible for the post was fired.

“After learning of this post made by a young employee it was deleted and the employee in charge of social media was terminated,” the restaurant wrote. “Our over 40 employees are made up of all ages and demographics.”

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A representative from Grille 86 was unavailable to speak on the issue after multiple phone calls.

Jon Bauer, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law who teaches a class on employment discrimination, said it’s possible the restaurant’s post violates the law.

According to federal law, age discrimination can only apply to people over 40—two years older than Romano.

“The most sensible way to interpret that is that if the victim of the discrimination is under 40 years old, he or she is simply not protected,” Bauer said.

But discrimination laws in Connecticut have no such age restrictions, Bauer said.

“There is nothing in the Connecticut law that limits discrimination on the basis of age to people 40 years of age or older,” Bauer said. “I think there would be a strong argument that [the post] violates Connecticut law.”

Bauer said Grille 86’s post could also violate laws preventing employers from advertising jobs with age restrictions.

“If you advertise that a position is restricted by age, that in itself is a violation of the Connecticut human rights law,” he said. “I guess the question here would be whether responding to a question on Facebook is an advertisement.”

Romano said he’s not interested in a big settlement, but feels like he was denied a job at Grille 86 without a good reason.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still do the damn thing,” Romano said.


Charlie Smart is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via charles.smart@uconn.edu.