A former restaurant manager is suing his employer over alleged violations of his civil rights and an incident involving a racial slur.
Michael Jenkins worked as a general manger for Au Bon Pain for 12 years until he was allegedly unceremoniously terminated from the company over an incident involving usage of an inappropriate racial term he witnessed. As such, Jenkins has filed a lawsuit on Sept. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against ABC Corp., doing business as the eatery franchise Au Bon Pain, citing a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Jenkins claims that during a managers meeting in August 2014, District Manager Eric Mansmann allegedly called a former black employee a derogatory name while explaining why said employee was fired.
Following the incident, Jenkins alleges another black employee approached him and confided to him that she that felt threatened working with Mansmann. She added “I hope that you’re not going to cover this up. I hope you’re going to protect your employees.”
Jenkins reassured her and told her to contact human resources.
In the suit Jenkins claims he was targeted for termination after encouraging the employee to contact human resources. He received a write up for his statement to HR and was told by a colleague in an off-the-record meeting that “if the boiling point for getting terminated is a 10, you’re at 8.5.”
Jenkins, who allegedly exhibited no disciplinary concerns up until the write up, was eventually terminated on Sept. 24, 2014.
Jenkins is seeking reinstatement of employment, compensation for full wages had he not been fired, as well as punitive or exemplary damages for the willful violation of his civil rights. Jenkins is being represented by Dennis M. Moskal of Pittsburgh.
Moskal said that Jenkins made “it clear that he wasn’t going to cover what this manager [Mansmann] has said in the manager meeting. Over the many years, Au Bon Pain has trusted Mike to train numerous managers. There were at least 30 managers he trained. So, how is it that he is being terminated for performance? It doesn’t reconcile.”
A representative from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission was unable to comment on the story when asked because of confidentiality reasons.
Calls and inquiries to Au Bon Pain were also unreturned at the time of this story’s publication.