The managers of a Kansas Buffalo Wild Wings are accused in a federal lawsuit of making racist comments about African Americans, and of allowing servers to refuse to serve black patrons, Yahoo! Lifestyle reports. Servers allegedly sought to refuse black customers because “blacks don’t give good tips,” and management figures allegedly allowed this practice, per the plaintiff’s lawyer.
Gary Lovelace, 55, claims he was fired — after having worked for Buffalo Wild Wings as a cook for 12 years — for complaining of racial discrimination. Lovelace, who is black, called the situation a “racially hostile” environment.
Lovelace filed a lawsuit this week in federal court, according to The Kansas City Star. In his suit, Lovelace lays out the alleged incidents of racial discrimination he reportedly endured at the Overland Park location, in suburban Kansas City.
Specifically, Lovelace says that his problems began around late 2016 or early 2017, when his location hired a new general manager. The new general manager would allegedly make derogatory comments about Lovelace, or about blacks in general, and try to play them off as “jokes.”
Lovelace’s complaints about his treatment brought retaliation and disdain from his managers, he says. For example, when Lovelace was introduced to a new employee, he says the assistant general manager referred to him as an “angry black man.”
Much of Lovelace’s lawsuit, however, doesn’t deal with alleged racial discrimination, but rather Lovelace’s claims that he was targeted and treated unfairly because of his age and disability.
We can't even eat Hot Wings in peace. Cold game.— VanLathan (@VanLathan) May 22, 2019
Kansas Buffalo Wild Wings managers said it’s OK to refuse black customers: lawsuit https://t.co/2EIm8qfjMN
Lovelace claimed, for example, that he was routinely criticized for taking too long to finish certain tasks, and that managers told him he was “too old” for the job.
Lovelace also reportedly asked to be given limited duties in the freezer because it upset his asthma. These requests were seemingly denied. Further, Lovelace says that he was repeatedly denied raises and promotions, and that his managers openly complained that he was “overpaid.” He says he was given demeaning duties, such as mopping floors, that were outside of his job description — and that he was ordered to work “undesirable shifts” despite his seniority.
“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 his employment,” the lawsuit claims.
A Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson confirmed to the Kansas City newspaper that the company was conducting an internal investigation into Lovelace’s complaints. The spokesperson also said that the fast-casual chain “values an inclusive environment,” and has “no tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”