In-N-Out Burger Lawsuit Claims Age, Race Discrimination By Popular Fast Food Chain

While In-N-Out Burger's famously Spartan menu has a pretty limited range of options, it's common knowledge that savvy customers can get grilled cheese sandwiches, well-done animal style fries and root beer floats without anyone batting an eye.

What you can't get, if you're African American or over the age of 40, is a job. At least, that's what's being alleged in a class action lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court earlier this week by two Oakland residents against the popular Irvine-based fast food chain.

The plaintiffs claim they were both qualified for the jobs they applied for at an East Bay In-N-Out location; however, they were not hired.

The restaurant chain has 210 restaurants in California and thousands of employees but the suit charges that "very few" are over 40 and/or black.

Steve Tidrick, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said the suit alleges that In-N-Out Burger has "a pervasive policy of discrimination on the basis of race, color and age" in its hiring practices and seeks to end those practices through injunctive relief.

The suit seeks an alteration to the company's hiring practices as well as both back pay and other monetary compensation to the individuals who were unfairly denied employment.

In-N-Out Burger General Counsel Arnie Wensinger has denied the allegations to the Associated Press.

In the world of fast food service, In-N-Out Burger is often considered a pretty attractive option.

The company pays its entry-level employees $10 per hour--well above the California minimum wage of $8 an hour. Full time associates at In-N-Out receive a benefits package with medical, vision and dental coverage.

Company Vice President Carl Van Fleet told NPR that, due to their comparatively higher pay, In-N-Out averages about half the employee turnover of their competitors in the fast food industry.

UPDATE (9/7/12): In-N-Out's vice president and general counsel Artie Wensinger issued the following statement in response to the charges:

"The allegations in the lawsuit have no basis in fact. The two stores where the two plaintiffs apparently applied for jobs have a workforce that is more than 23% African American."