Lawsuit against Au Bon Pain over civil rights violation, racial slur allegations was dismissed

By Hoang Tran | Oct 12, 2015

PITTSBURGH – An ex-restaurant manager who sued his former employer over alleged violations of his civil rights and an incident involving a racial slur, has dismissed the litigation according to court records.

Per a motion made on Jan. 28, 2016 by plaintiff counsel Dennis M. Moskal, litigant Michael Jenkins agreed to dismiss all claims against restaurant chain Au Bon Pain with prejudice and without rights of appeal.

Plaintiff Jenkins worked as a general manager for Au Bon Pain for 12 years, until he was allegedly unceremoniously terminated from the company, after witnessing an incident involving the usage of an inappropriate racial term. As such, Jenkins initially filed a lawsuit on Sept. 16, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against ABP Corp. (doing business as the eatery franchise "Au Bon Pain"), citing a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the suit, Jenkins claimed that during a manager's 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 allegedly added, “I hope that you’re not going to cover this up. I hope you’re going to protect your employees.”

Jenkins claims he reassured her and told her to contact the company's human resources department.

In the suit, Jenkins claimed he was targeted for termination after encouraging the employee to contact human resources. He received a write-up for his statement to HR and says he was told by a colleague in an off-the-record meeting, “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.

Moskal said that Jenkins “made it clear that he wasn’t going to cover up what this manager [Mansmann] has said in the manager meeting. Over 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.

Prior to dismissal, Jenkins was 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.

The plaintiff was represented by Dennis M. Moskal, in Pittsburgh.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case 2:15-cv-01210

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