nearly all of the black waiters at a tgi friday's in manhattan were replaced by "light-skinned" workers - mostly hispanic - when the chain closed a busy midtown location and opened a new store. according to a lawsuit filed thursday in bronx supreme court, just one black staff member was rehired after being fired.
when the workers protested, a restaurant manager told one of them he preferred hispanic workers because they "work harder," the class action discrimination suit alleges. one of the plaintiffs, lisa baker, said, "it was their opinion that black people are lazy." the 48 year-old waitress also said, "we weren't even given a chance."
managers openly referred to the old location as the "ghetto store," or the "black friday's," and wanted to rid themselves of that reputation, the suit contends. former employees said they were promised an equal opportunity to work at the new restaurant, a 15,000-square-foot franchise on 34th street, but never heard from their employers.
"they knew exactly what they were doing," said tony pringle, 42, another plaintiff. he earned $850/week and was not rehired. pringle said, "they were basically not hiring blacks." one of the plaintiffs' lawyers, matthew bilt said, "the only reason these people are not working right now is because of their skin color. heck, this isn't the 1950's."
a spokesman for tgi friday's owners, national restaurants management inc. - a family-run business known as the reise organization - said the company "is proud of its 75-year tradition of positive employee relations with a diverse workforce." their spokesman pat smith asserted, "the restaurant in question has a workforce, including managers, that is more than 80% non-white."
lawyers for the former waitstaff are seeking $500,000 for each of the 10 fired employees. the $5 million suit pursues "loss of wages, emotional distress and punitive damages."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.