Fla. Customer Sues McDonald's After Worker Allegedly Unleashes Anti-Gay Rant And Assault
"That stupid faggot doesn't know how to do his job," Perez allegedly said, according to a lawsuit filed by Snyder after the December 2010 incident (via South Florida Gay News). "He just came out of the closet."
After Snyder, who is gay, told her that he found the remark offensive, he claims that Perez became irate, ultimately assaulting him, part of which was caught on video (see below). On June 26, Perez was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and three years probation on charges of battery and burglary in connection with the incident.
But Snyder has sued McDonald's, alleging that management was negligent and fails to properly train employees. And, in fact, there have been other recent cases in which McDonald's workers were accused of gay-bashing or otherwise harming customers perceived as gay.
Back in December 2010, when Snyder drove up to the McDonald's window and heard Perez's comments, he says that he was offended. In the car was his boyfriend, a lesbian couple and his brother. "Ma'am I am gay. How can you say stuff like that?" he recalled asking Perez in a YouTube video that he put together after the incident.
Then, according to Snyder, Perez became livid and lunged through the drive-thru's window and tried to grab their food. As Snyder drove their car through the lot, Perez followed them and began kicking the vehicle, according to the lawsuit. When Snyder and his passengers got out of the car, she followed, shoving and punching Snyder (who got a black eye). The assault -- part of which is captured on security video that can be seen in the YouTube video -- only came to an end when two co-workers forced Snyder to the ground, according to the suit.
Snyder called 911, but a McDonald's manager reportedly urged Perez to go "home before police get here" and she left, according to the lawsuit. Perez allegedly failed to show up for work ever again; a year later, she was allegedly caught speeding in a car and was charged in the Snyder case. She pled no contest in the Snyder case, but was not charged with a hate crime, according to the South Florida Gay News. She's no longer employed by McDonald's, according to company spokeswoman Julie Pottebaum.
That, however, isn't the end of the matter for Snyder. His lawsuit against McDonald's alleges that the chain and the individual franchise is guilty of "negligent hiring" for bringing on employees who "were, and are, incompetent, unfit for employment in the food service or any industry, and dangerous." The suit also accuses McDonald's of negligent supervision as well as the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Snyder is seeking at least $15,000 in damages.
"They [the managers] treated him like he was the instigator, kicking him out," says Robert Strick, Snyder's attorney. He added that Snyder did receive a letter of apology from McDonald's but said it was "vague," and only apologized for "how Snyder might not have enjoyed his McDonald's experience," according to Strick. Instead, the chain wanted to sweep the issue under the rug, according to Strick, and urged Perez to leave the premises before the police could arrive on the scene.
For its part, McDonald's denies that there's any systemic mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender customers. "We believe this incident does not reflect the overall experiences of the 28 million customers we serve every day," Pottebaum said in an e-mail to AOL Jobs.
Regardless, other McDonald's workers have been accused of physically and verbally abusing LGBT Americans. Ryan Marlatt, Teddy Eggers and three other friends were waiting for their food to be prepared at a McDonald's in Louisville, Ky., in 2008, when one of the branch's workers allegedly began to heckle the men, calling them "faggots." The four claimed that they were rebuffed by management, and their request for a refund received no response. Phone calls placed to McDonald's corporate offices in the following weeks also reportedly went nowhere until the American Civil Liberties Union took up the case. McDonald's agreed the following year to a cash settlement and sensitivity training for the workers at the branch, according to the ACLU.
And just last year, workers at a Baltimore McDonald's allegedly just stood by and watched as customers beat up a transgender woman, Chrissy Polis, to the point at which she reportedly was having seizures. Instead of intervening, a McDonald's employee taped the incident on a cell phone. The video then proceeded to go viral on the Internet. While Polis never filed a lawsuit, she did receive a settlement of undisclosed terms from McDonald's, according to the Baltimore Sun. And she says that she's living off a loan from a non-bank lender.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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