By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Three Tim Hortons employees, two recently fired and one relocated, filed a federal discrimination complaint against the store’s management for use of racial slurs and for being paid below minimum wage.
During a press conference Dec. 18 in Detroit, Attorney Nabih Ayad said each of the three African American employees filed complaints with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Detroit Field Office.
The three employees involved in the complaints are Tim Hortons supervisor of three years John Munningham, head baker at Tim Hortons for 18 years Francis Martin and her daughter Sharneisha Martin who was a new employee trainer at Tim Hortons for four years.
Mother and daughter were fired from the Tim Hortons, 10401 Ford Road on Oct. 24 and Nov. 14, respectively, while Munningham was removed from the schedule and transferred to Tim Hortons, 24921 Ford Road a few weeks later.
Francis Martin said she was fired when she tried to resign for not receiving a raise, Sharneisha Martin said she was fired following an argument with a customer who called her an “animal,” and Munningham said discrimination was still taking place at the new Tim Hortons restaurant to which he was transferred.
“When a customer called me an animal and the manager yelled at me, I said, ‘It’s OK for a customer to call me an animal? And she said yeah, because I’m black,” Sharneisha Martin said.
Her mother called the Tim Hortons location she worked at “degrading.”
“That was the most degrading place that I have ever worked at, but I had to keep my job because of my family,” she said. “It’s not easy getting a job so I had to go where it was convenient for me. It just all built up. It’s degrading.”
She also said that when it was time for her to get a raise, the management at the Ford Road and Wyoming location told her she should “go to the crack house and sell drugs.”
Munningham said that a white female supervisor who began working at the same Tim Hortons location five months ago used racial slurs daily when she needed something lifted and brought down.
“She would say, ‘Come, let me use your n-word strength or your n-word height I need help’ and things like that,” he said. “It just made me feel like (explicit) basically. Like what am I here for? A piece of meat working, doing all your slave work?”
Ayad said the non-African American employees were receiving raises, given the easy work load and allowed to take sick days without question from management, while Sharneisha Martin, Francis Martin and Munningham had to go into work to show they were sick.
He added that if the Tim Hortons management or ownership do not address the issues and make changes to their “discriminatory practices” a federal lawsuit could be filed.
“Harassment of any kind is unacceptable and everyone has the right to live and work in environments free from harassment,” Tim Hortons told the Detroit News in response.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])