Danny Evins, founder of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, passed away on January 14, 2012, at the age of 76. Evins sparked controversy in 1991 after he defended a company directive to fire employees “whose sexual preferences fail to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” Evins’s explanation for the edict was that gay people made customers in rural areas uncomfortable. Following the directive, it was estimated that as many as 16 openly or suspected gay employees were promptly fired. The policy was put into writing. The New York City Employees Retirement System led other stock owners in using their votes and other legal means to organize resistance. Several months after the policy was enacted, Evins apologized and said the policy had been rescinded. In 2002, after much pressure from shareholders, Cracker Barrel’s board voted unanimously to explicitly forbid anti – gay discrimination in its equal employment policy.

Under United States law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not enforce the protections that prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. However, with the repeal of the Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, many Gay and Lesbian Organizations are hopeful that the discrimination based on sexual orientation will be prohibited in all work places. To date, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Please visit the EEOC’s website for further information: www.eeoc.gov/policy/vii.html.

The attorneys at Leeds Morelli & Brown, P.C., dedicate a large amount of their practice to employment discrimination claims. For any questions, contact an attorney at the Leeds Brown Law, P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-800-585-4658. Leeds Brown Law, P.C.’s website is located at www.lmblaw.com.