A St.Louis banquet server and bartender has filed suit against Bon Appetit Management Company, alleging the Palo Alto-based catering company subjected him to a racially charged work environment — and then fired him when he complained.
Exhibit A in James Eggleston's complaint: a cage.
Eggleston, who was hired by Bon Appetit in September 2015, says a purchasing manager and chef wheeled a five-foot-high cage within a few feet of where he and a handful of other black employees were working. "If you all get out of order, we are going to put you in this cage," the white supervisors told the group, according to the lawsuit. They allegedly added, "We are going to put at least three of you in this cage."
Eggleston and a co-worker complained to their supervisor. But while she told them she took the matter seriously, and urged them not to go to HR, they say the cage stayed put.
Eggleston continued to pursue the matter, but was told that management "did not understand why [he] 'could not get over the cage.”
After that, Eggleston alleges, the retaliation began. A manager allegedly told him things including “Boy, you better stop what you are doing, "you are not fit for this job" and “You should think about doing something else!” Last February, he was suspended and then terminated.
Eggleston has filed suit against the company. "Plaintiff provided management level personnel with enough information to raise a probability of racial harassment in the mind of a reasonable employer and the harassment was so pervasive and open that a reasonable employer would have had to be aware of it," his suit says.
A Bon Appetit spokeswoman did not respond to an email seeking comment Saturday.
Attorney Aaron Weishaar, who filed the suit on Eggleston's behalf, says it will be up to a judge to determine whether the company's handling of the cage was racially motivated.
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