Homeless man targets Burger King in lawsuit over fake bill accusation

It would seem that a cashier at the fast food chain would know if a $10 was phony, but it has led to litigation


An African-American man in Boston who was arrested at a Burger King after they assumed he was paying for food with a fake $10 bill is suing the fast food chain for discrimination.

Emory Ellis is suing over the November 2015 incident and his action follows recent discrimination allegations in recent high-profile events ranging from two Black men being arrested for sitting in a Starbucks to several Black women getting detained for leaving an Airbnb vacation home.

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Ellis, 37, said he feels he was wronged because he was Black and homeless and spent three months in jail over the incident. He is suing Burger King for $950,000, according to legal website Law360.  

“I know that had I walked into the Burger King with the exact same $10 bill, nobody would have scrutinized it,” said Ellis’s attorney, Justin Drechsler.

“I never would have been accused of anything. I certainly wouldn’t have had the police called on me, no matter what the series of events.”

The lawsuit said the Burger King cashier refused to return Ellis’s money and threatened to call the police if Ellis didn’t leave the restaurant.

The cashier “was plainly discriminating against Mr. Ellis based on Mr. Ellis’ appearance,” according to court documents.

The cashier called the police and Ellis was arrested and charged with forgery of a bank note.

Ellis spent so much time in jail because the arrest constituted a probation violation and he was held without bail until his final probation violation hearing, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit says that “not only did Ellis lose three months of his life to incarceration, but he also suffered substantial emotional distress, public humiliation and shame. He suffered from “sleeplessness, anxiety and depression associated with defending himself against this baseless charge that exposed him to a potential criminal sanction of life in prison,” according to court documents.

Ellis was held until February 2016. The Secret Service later said the $10 bill was real, according to the lawsuit. His money was never returned.

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