A former assistant manager of the Bedford Burger King will be paid $65,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit if a judge approves a consent decree filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement in the case, which began in 2001 when Burger King assistant manager Thomas Guy alleged that he was disciplined and fired in retaliation for his opposition to a race-based reassignment of employees requested by a customer.
The EEOC filed action against Star City LLC, doing business as Burger King, PMI Services, Inc. and Petroleum Marketers Inc. in September 2003.
The consent decree states that the settlement does not constitute a finding on the merits of the case, but it also states that Star City management employees will be required to attend a training program of at least four hours regarding equal employment opportunity rights and responsibilities, with a focus on retaliation.
Suzanne Nyfeler, trial attorney for the EEOC, said a black customer requested that a black employee prepare her sandwich, after returning a sandwich three times that was prepared by a white cook.
The black employee was a cashier, and Guy said it was against store policy to have a person working as cashier prepare food. Guy, who is white, perceived the request as racial discrimination, Nyfeler said, and told the customer he could not comply with it.
His refusal entitled him to protection from discipline or discharge under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Nyfeler said.
The woman complained to Guyâ€™s employer, who fired him within two weeks of the charge. Guy appealed to the EEOC, alleging his dismissal was retaliatory.
His employer denied the allegation, and instead contended that Guy was dismissed for the way in which he responded to the customerâ€™s request, Nyfeler said.
Attorneys for Star City could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Star City operates about 10 convenience and fast food restaurants in Virginia and West Virginia.
If approved, Guy would receive $15,000 in settlement of claims for pay and benefits, and another $50,000 of claims for compensatory damages.