Outback Steakhouse pays $65,000 to settle lawsuit

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The owners of the Outback Steakhouse agreed to pay an Arizona man $65,000 to settle an employment discrimination claim.

John Woods, a former professional baseball umpire, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car crash nearly a decade ago.  After years of rehab, he was able to learn how to walk, talk, and become independent again.

Woods began umping high school games, and also started waiting tables in 2010. He says his job at the Outback Steakhouse in North Phoenix was going well, until a new manager came in.

Woods claims he was fired because of his disabilities, which include speech, hearing, and vision impairment.

"John was a team player and doing his best.  He worked very hard after a serious accident to rehab himself and become self sufficient. He was out in the workforce trying very hard," Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attorney Nancy Griffiths said.
"I'll be the first to admit I have disabilities, but I've made the most of what I've been dealt with," Woods told 3TV in 2010.
Woods' manager at Outback said he was unable to keep up, Griffiths said.

OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC, which owns Outback, agreed to pay Woods $65,000 to settle the discrimination lawsuit. In addition, Arizona restaurant managers will go through training, and post notices at all Outbacks regarding employee rights under the Anti-Discrimination Act.

Outback officials did not return emails.