by Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Ten former waiters at a New York TGI Fridays are accusing the franchise of racism and colorism, saying that when their location closed, the company hired “light-skinned workers” who were mostly Hispanic to replace them at the new location, according to the New York Daily News.
The waitstaff at the closed Manhattan location was told to reapply for their jobs, but when only one black worker got rehired, the employees filed “the class action discrimination suit” claiming, among many things, that the managers referred to the old location as “the ghetto store” or “black Fridays,” the Daily News reports.
A manager also allegedly said that Hispanic workers were preferred at the new location because they “work harder.”
Lisa Baker, 48, one of the co-plaintiffs in the suit, described how she feels she was misled when TGI Fridays told the old employees to reapply for their jobs at the new location as she believes the company had no intention of hiring black workers.
“We weren’t even given a chance,” Baker said. “It was their opinion that black people were lazy.”
According to the Daily News, each former employee is seeking $500,000 from TGI Fridays for “loss of wages, emotional distress and punitive damages.”
“The only reason these people are not working right now is because of their skin,” said Matthew Blit, the lawyer who filed the suit on the plaintiffs’ behalf. “Heck, this isn’t the 1950s.”
A franchise spokesman said the company “is proud of its 75-year tradition of positive employee relations with a diverse workforce,” the Daily News reports.