The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against an upstate New York franchise of Domino's Pizza accusing it of discrimination and race-based harassment, according to the EEOC complaint.
Parris Pizza Company, LLC, which operates a Domino's Pizza franchise in Olean, New York, about an hour south of Buffalo, has been accused of subjecting their African-American employees of all seniority levels to intimidation, racial slurs and physical threats.
Andrew Ross is the lead employee named in the EEOC complaint. Ross' complaints to the owner of Parris Pizza was allegedly met with an aggressive threatening action with a pair of scissors.
The lawsuit charges that the racist behavior began in 2019 at the latest, and that Parris Pizza forced Ross and others to work in a racially insensitive environment that included mistreatment from managers and senior staff. That environment included daily use of racial epithets during every shift as well as the racially insensitive 'boy' moniker to address Ross and other employees.
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This corporate culture was further advanced by one specific manager who "mimicked the voice of a slave owner and called Ross 'boy' while the other manager stood by and laughed," according to the complaint.
The group of African-American employees told management about the constant harassment, but according to the complaint the result was even more discrimination and derogatory behavior. In one instance, after telling a white co-worker not to use a racial epithet, the manager on shift allegedly got face-to-face with the same African-American employee and aggressively said the racial epithet in a threatening manner.
According to the complaint, none of the employees that engaged in the harassment received any disciplinary action, in fact one manager received a pay raise and the other received a promotion. Because of the racist environment, Ross said he had no choice but to resign.
"Racial harassment in the workplace is a crucial issue, all the more pressing in the wake of the horrific, racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo less than a year ago," Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office, said in the EEOC's press release about the complaint. "This lawsuit sends a clear message that racial harassment of employees will not be tolerated."
The complaint states that Parris Pizza violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race. The complaint seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement and injunctive relief.