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BUSTED: Sonny’s waitress fired for reporting sexual harassment caught the illegal firing on tape

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A North Carolina waitress was fired after telling supervisors at her restaurant that a manager groped her, WBTV-TV reports.

Lauren Jones told the station she was a waitress at Sonny’s Barbecue in Charlotte for about a month when her manager came up behind her and grabbed her butt at the end of her shift.

“I immediately turned around with my left elbow, and kind of surprisingly looked at him in his face, and said ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’” she told WBTV.

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Jones decided to report the incident to prevent it from happening again.

“I specifically told him I’m not looking for a lawsuit, I’m not looking for anything. If we can handle in the four walls of Sonny’s, I’m ok with that,” she told the station.

But what happened next surprised her. She was fired in a meeting with the restaurant’s general manager and Ed Tubel, who owns the Sonny’s franchise. The manager she accused of grabbing her was also present.

Jones made a recording of the meeting on her cell phone and gave it to Fox54.

In the recording, a male at the meeting tells Jones he doesn’t believe her because she had been with the company less than a month and the manager had been with them 15 years with no complaints. When Jones tried to say what happened, the man interrupted her and said he doesn’t “accept” her story.

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“All I want here is to be on record that he did touch me,” she says in the recording.

The man responds, “Well we can’t accept that… It is on record, but I don’t accept it.”

At the end of the meeting, Tubel tells her, “We don’t want you to quit. We’re terminating you.”

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Fox54 interviewed employment law attorney Chris Strianese, who said what he heard in Jones’ recording seemed illegal.

“My initial impression is that if you’re going to put together a seminar on the wrong way to fire someone, this would be the first exhibit in that seminar,” Strianese told WBTV. “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents and prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. But it also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee for complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace.”

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Strianese added that the actions of restaurant owners and management could end up costing them if the matter went before a jury.

“If I were on that jury, and I deal with this a lot, I would have a very easy time concluding that… the employer has engaged in illegal conduct here,” Strianese said. “The consequences for this are really quite serious. Judges and juries do not like employers who retaliate.”

The president of Tricor, Tubel’s franchise company, doubled down on blaming Jones for coming forward after working for the company for under a month.

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“Sonny’s Bar B Q has operated established family oriented restaurants in the Charlotte area for 37 years,” Theresa Randall said in a statement to WBTV. “It is unfortunate that a person who was employed at one of our restaurants for less than a month has decided to take her grievances to the news media. Sonny’s will not respond to personnel matters through the news media.”

Update, 8:15 p.m. EST: WBTV reported that negative comments left on the restaurant chain’s Facebook page disappeared — until the station contacted Sonny’s asking about it.

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” a spokesperson said. “The issue has been resolved and everything is visible.”

According to the station, viewers began slamming Sonny’s online shortly after its initial report on Jones’ firing.

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“Shame on you Sonny’s. I don’t care if she only worked for you for 1 day!” one Facebook user wrote. “Your franchise owner is not only misogynistic he is also unethical and his actions are illegal.”

The company initially responded to each comment by saying that each restaurant was owned by independent owners and that it was “our understanding that this is an ongoing matter that is being addressed by the franchisee.”

Watch the report, from WBTV, as posted here:

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WATCH: Trump lawyer Pam Bondi brushes off her meeting with Lev Parnas during NBC grilling

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During an interview with NBC News' "Today" on Saturday, Pam Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida and one of the lawyers representing President Donald Trump in impeachment matters, dismissed the photograph released by House Democrats that shows her with indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.

"Clearly, Lev Parnas liked to take pictures with a lot of people," said Bondi unconcernedly. "He showed up at events pretty much everywhere where Republicans were."

Asked about Trump's relationship with Parnas, she added, "I don't know what that matters, what they're planning on doing with it. We're going to stick to the facts and stick to the law in this case."

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Lev Parnas ran to Maddow over fear Justice Department officials would bury Bill Barr allegations: ex-prosecutor

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Appearing on MSNBC's "AM Joy," a former prosecutor speculated that indicted Lev Parnas -- who has leveled a stunning amount of accusations against President Donald Trump and senior administration officials --- likely agreed to speak candidly with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow because he fears for his life and felt Attorney General Bill Barr couldn't be trusted.

Addressing the interview that drew record viewership for Maddow's evening show, former prosecutor and current MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner said Parnas likely had good reason to worry about how his own case is going.

"I'm quite sure SDNY prosecutors have sat down and gotten all this information. some of the information we now know they must have gotten was what Lev Parnas told Rachel," Kirschner explained. "Bill Barr is in on the dirty Ukranian deal."

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MSNBC panel bursts out laughing after watching clip of Alan Dershowitz explaining his Trump defense strategy

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On MSNBC Saturday, a panel of legal experts tore into former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz's argument that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense, which anchor Joy Reid played for them in a clip.

"You cannot make any sense out of it. It is an absurd comment," said former federal prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, to laughter around the table. "It is the standard by which we have impeached in the past. If you listen to the witnesses at the House, three out of four said that is an impeachable offense. The articles against Richard Nixon included abuse of power. It is clearly what was intended by our framers. It's what the Federalist Papers say, and it's the thing that makes sense. Other high crimes and misdemeanors are exactly that. It isn't under the federal statutes that they were talking about. Bribery isn't under the federal statute because there was no federal bribery crime when the Constitution was passed. It was whatever people thought it was."

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