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Cracker Barrel restaurants agreed Monday to change their training and management practices after the Justice Department accused the country-style chain of wide-spread discrimination against black diners within 50 locations. A civil rights investigation discovered that black diners at Cracker Barrels in seven Southern states were routinely given tables apart from whites, seated after white clients who arrived later, and given poor service, the department said in stating the settlement.

Managers allowed white servers to refuse to wait on black patrons, and blacks were given less favorable treatment than whites once they complained about service, investigators found. Interviews with lots of employees suggested that managers ”often directed, took part in, or condoned the discriminatory behavior,” the department said.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, a chain located in Tennessee which has 497 locations nationwide and is known for its country-style cooking and folksy retail stores, denied the accusations in a lawsuit that this Justice Department filed on Monday in Georgia. Nevertheless in an agreement filed with all the lawsuit, the organization agreed to wide-ranging steps to combat discrimination against black diners. Among them are new training programs, random testing by undercover diners, the posting of nondiscrimination statements on menus, as well as the hiring of an outside auditor.

The agreement ”moves forward in a direction we had been already moving,” said Julie Davis, an organization spokeswoman. She stated that while Cracker Barrel failed to believe the accusations, it consented to the six-point plan partly to prevent ”protracted, distracting, costly, multiyear litigation.”

The laws under that the suit was brought did not allow the department to find money. But recently some 100 blacks have pressed discrimination claims and are seeking money from the company in four lawsuits in Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and N . C .. Stores there and then in Alabama, Louisiana and Virginia were subjects from the department investigation.

”It’s shocking that something similar to this still happens 40 years after the passage of civil rights legislation,” said Heidi Doerhoff, a Washington lawyer active in the Arkansas and Mississippi lawsuits. ”It harkens returning to the back-of-the-bus treatment of African-Americans.”

Ms. Doerhoff said the widespread discrimination detected from the department was just like the experiences in the a large number of plaintiffs. One black employee at a Cracker Barrel in Mississippi stated that white waitresses kaiypp pay her $3 per table to offer their black customers, Ms. Doerhoff said. As well as a black diner said that when he complained to some manager that whites were treated better, he was told he should go to Burger King, she said.

Her one disappointment, Ms. Doerhoff said, was that Cracker Barrel ”is unwilling to admit that it’s done anything wrong.” ”They’re still fighting tooth and nail against all the private plaintiffs,” she said. In past months, some civil rights advocates and Democrats in Congress have accused the Bush administration of failing to aggressively pursue civil rights cases, particularly those involving patterns of corporate misconduct, plus they said they worried that cases like Cracker Barrel’s were permitted to lag.

But R. Alexander Acosta, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, stated that the agreement filed on Monday demonstrated the Justice Department’s resolve. ”Where we find evidence, since we did here, that individuals of the race are receiving anything lower than full and equal use of public accommodations, we will act,” Mr. Acosta said. The N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights advocates claimed that certain requirements imposed on Cracker Barrel sent a solid message but that the test from the company’s image could be if the plaintiffs won money.

”It’s unclear if this can be a large black eye,” said John Relman, an attorney whose discrimination lawsuits up against the Denny’s restaurant chain during the early 1990’s helped result in a $54 million settlement. ”What happens with those lawsuits will truly see whether Cracker Barrel gains the kind of notoriety that Denny’s did.”