Managers at a Kansas Buffalo Wild Wings are facing a lawsuit for empowering a “racially hostile work environment.”
What We Know:
- On Monday, May 21, managers at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas received a lawsuit from a former employee. Gary Lovelace, 55, worked for the Oakland Park location for 12 years until he was fired. He is the employee responsible for the lawsuit. Mr. Lovelace enjoyed working at Buffalo Wild Wings until the hiring of a new general manager at the beginning of 2017. The lawsuit states the he was targeted for his age and disability, as well as being forced to work in a racially uncomfortable environment.
- Mr. Lovelace told the Kansas City Star that while he was employed, not only did he witness the managers engage in derogatory comments about African-Americans, he was also subjected to racial comments that were brushed off as jokes. He specifically told the Star that on one occasion, the assistant general manager introduced him as the “angry black man.” Lovelace also reported how the manager would allow employees to provide black customers with ‘bottom of the barrel’ service. Some white employees even went so far as to refuse to serve black people because “blacks don’t give good tips.”
- In the lawsuit, Lovelace explains how he was often targeted by the new general manager. The lawsuit says his manager would often get angry when he requested to take breaks from working in the freezer when it triggered his asthma. The manager also complained that Lovelace was old and took a long time to finish a task. He was put on undesirable shifts, forced to do extra work that wasn’t in his job description, and never received a pay raise or a promotion despite his seniority at the restaurant.
- Lovelace’s attorney, Gerald Gray, told the Star, “Mr. Lovelace became fearful and was often stressed due to the tension he faced on the job during his shifts over the last year of employment.” In this last year, Lovelace reported his concerns to management but there was no resolution. Lovelace was ultimately fired for being late to work, a decision made after he informed the managers that he was the caretaker of a sick family member and would sometimes be late. According to Lovelace, he was told “rather than informing managers ahead of time, he should call in sick and not come in when he had to be late to work.
- The managers at the Oakland location have yet to comment, but a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson told the Star, “Buffalo Wild Wings values an inclusive environment and we have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind.” The spokesperson also said there would be a thorough investigation.
The case has yet to be settled, but look for more details on this story.
We will update this story at BNA.