Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Business

County: Dome Grill discriminated when it turned away older job applicant

ST. PETERSBURG — The Dome Grill violated a county discrimination ordinance after the owner's son told a job hopeful they were looking to hire someone "young and beautiful," according to a report from the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights.

The downtown restaurant's owner and the 62-year-old woman who was turned away have a chance to come to an agreement before the case escalates to a public hearing. Since the restaurant has fewer than 15 employees, it only broke a county ordinance — not state and federal rules, said Paul Valenti, director of the county office of human rights.

The county's investigation found there was enough evidence to show the restaurant had engaged in illegal age discrimination based on employee comments and prior hiring practices.

Jennifer Morehead, a 62-year-old St. Petersburg resident, went to the Dome Grill on Jan. 10, 2012, to interview for a cashier job, according to the county memo. She had planned to meet with owner Michael Karamalakos, but he wasn't there.

Instead, she spoke with his son, Kostas. The memo stated he quickly dismissed her, saying she wasn't the type of person they were looking to hire.

"I'm sorry. We're looking for a young, college girl to work at the register," he said, as noted in the report. "We wouldn't be interested in you. We're looking for someone young and beautiful."

The report went on to state Morehead came back later in the day with a friend to ask Kostas Karamalakos to clarify what he had said. He said again the restaurant was looking for a young, beautiful employee.

Alex Kalamalakos, the owner's other son, then asked the women to leave. The report stated he was in charge of the restaurant when the owner was unavailable.

Part of the reason behind the county's decision was due to the restaurant's prior hiring practices. The cashiers the owner hired were all in their late teens and early 20s.

Morehead said she just wants Karamalakos to understand it's not acceptable to dismiss someone's abilities because they're older. She said she hopes to get a sincere apology and to get the owner and his employees to go through sensitivity training.

"I don't need the guy's money," she said. "I just want him to understand that some people don't really get it until you hit their pocketbook."

The restaurant's owner could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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