EEOC claim says Applebee’s told Black, gay worker to ignore slurs from cook who wore Confederate hat 

A Florida line cook complained that two of his co-workers regularly harassed him because he's Black and gay, which "forced" him to quit.

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A line cook at a Plant City, Florida, Applebee’s has filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that two of his co-workers harassed him because he is Black and gay. One of the antagonistic co-workers even allegedly wore a Confederate flag hat “all the time.”

The federal lawsuit alleges that managers at the local franchise repeatedly told the unnamed line cook to “ignore” his co-workers even as they frequently used the “N-word” and told “inappropriate jokes” about his sexual orientation, according to The Miami Herald.

Further, the man was allegedly subjected to retaliation when he tried to discuss the issue with NRP’s corporate offices, and had his hours cut by more than 50%. When he asked for more hours, he was rebuffed and later quit. 

A file photo shows an Applebee’s restaurant in Hudson, Wisconsin, on March 8, 2020. (Adobe Stock Photo)

“No employee should have to endure homophobic and racist harassment by co-workers,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg in a statement. “Failing to take corrective action to correct a work environment permeated with racial and homophobic slurs, and, even worse, punishing an employee for reporting harassment, will not be tolerated.”

EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows noted: “At all times, not only during Pride Month, the EEOC is committed to robust enforcement of Title VII’s protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination,” adding, “This case also shows that racist slurs and paraphernalia remain a persistent problem that employers should be prepared to address in prompt and effective ways.”

The franchise is owned by Neighborhood Restaurant Partners Florida, LLC (NRP) which according to the EEOC has been required to pay $100,000 in monetary relief and under a three-year consent decree will also provide specialized training on sexual orientation and race discrimination to human resources officers and managers to ensure they are aware of their obligations to prevent workplace discrimination and how to address complaints.

Pamela Jones, the vice president of marketing at NRP LLC, told McClatchy News in a statement that the company is “committed to maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all.”

“We have used this isolated incident as a learning opportunity and will make training available to ensure that our restaurants are a place where all feel welcome and respected.”

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