Coffee Chain's Hiring Of 'Bubbly, Attractive' Teens Target Of Federal Probe

A local coffee chain, known for its bubbly, attractive female staff in pink shirts, is being investigated by federal officials for possible age and race discrimination, and the chain is complaining that the probe is a "witch hunt."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been quietly probing Marylou's hiring practices for nearly a year, examining reams of job applications and interviewing management and current employees of the 29-store chain about workers' gender, age, race and body type, the Boston Herald reports, citing comments from the company.

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The EEOC has declined comment. But company vice president Ronnie Sandry said questions about Marylou's hiring practices were raised after EEOC officials saw local TV commercials, featuring young, white women dancing and singing a company jingle that boasts it has "the best coffee in town." The company denied that it engages in discrimination. Sandry said Marylou's focus in on fun -- not sex.

"We have never had a complaint against us for age discrimination or any kind of discrimination. We feel the EEOC is on a witch hunt," founder Marylou Sandry wrote in a letter to a state senator seeking help, according to the Herald.

Ronnie Sandry said Marylou's has a limited pool of talent for its hires, which tend to be young women from the primarily white South Shore towns and suburbs of Boston.

As with any job, depending on the position that's being filled, "certain people" show up, Sandry told the newspaper. "When we're hiring, certain people apply, and we have no control over it."

'Much A-Brew About Nothing'

Marylou's also sent a letter to state Sen. Robert Hedlund, complaining about the probe. Hedlund said that he is dumbfounded by the EEOC's probe of the iconic chain.

"Why, because they haven't hired old, overweight men who want to wear a pink T-shirt and serve coffee?" Hedlund said, adding that he felt the federal government has better things to do.

Word of the alleged probe led Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan to label the controversy "much a-brew about nothing."

"I tried, and failed, to work myself into an anti-ageist feminist frenzy ... over the allegations," she wrote. "Don't the discrimination fighters have better targets than this?"

Eagan quotes local resident Molly Roman as saying, "I have five daughters. My girls would like to work there." Roman, 43, also said that she's seen women her age at Marylou's outlets in other towns. Eagan adds that a few women who look Roman's age appear in some of Marylou's ads.

The alleged probe is similar to one the EEOC undertook in the mid-1990s into hiring practices at Hooters, which alleged the restaurant chain, which features scantily clad female waitresses, discriminated against men in hiring only women.

The EEOC eventually dropped its case, saying it was devoting its scarce resources elsewhere.





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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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Mr. Incredible

Studies show that coffee tastes better when handed to you by an attractive young girl. I know mine does.

August 27 2012 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Walters

Left wing Fascism I know it's an oxymoron but in this case it is true. This business is being attacked because left wing feminist who secretly wish they could work at hooters are upset they can't work here ether. I would never go to these places because I respect my wife to much but that does not mean I want to ban other guys. EEOC get a life and leave this business and others like them alone. Next thing you will see 65 year old grandma's serving drinks at Reno Casinos.

May 30 2012 at 8:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kesac

How many black or hispanic, over 40 men applied for a less than minimum wage job that relies on tips?
And, of course, specifying personality traits, for a sales position, just has to be a crime, doesn't it?

May 28 2012 at 10:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

The should empower the EEOC and arm the agency just like Animal Control so they can shoot abusers!

May 26 2012 at 8:32 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

DIrty old guys ought to go there that should change the atmosphere and upset the discrimination system so the clever conspiracy falls apart.

May 26 2012 at 8:24 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
wuffo123

I hope they open a Marylou's in my town!

May 26 2012 at 7:39 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
juanwinglo

IT'S TIME FOR THE EEOC TO BE ELIMINATED IF THIS IS ALL THEY HAVE TO DO !!!!

May 26 2012 at 7:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drdeweyjnk

The local airlines was hiring pilots and would not give me a job. They discriminated against me just because I didn't know how to fly, am 97, and blind. That is age discrimination and discrimination of the handicapped. How dare they, I want a lot of money to make myself feel better.

May 26 2012 at 7:32 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Jim

So, if I wanted to open a place that served old home style food and wanted as part of the atmoshere of the place and only wanted to hire older women then would this be a problem. There was an article the other day where a woman says she was fired for being "too hot".

May 26 2012 at 7:00 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment
kesac

You can discriminate against "younger than 40" but not "older than 40". That is the law.

May 28 2012 at 10:16 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
valgaavmiko

Hollister does it. They have a top 5 (as in the top 5 attractive employees) and put them up front while the rest work in the back of the store. They actually have to make their schedule so they have at least one of their top 5 in front at all times.

May 26 2012 at 3:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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