New York's most-searched fast food chain, Sweetgreen, has just received its second major lawsuit of the year. But this time, it's much more serious than corporate squabbling over the name of a burrito bowl. At least 10 Sweetgreen employees have taken legal action against the company for multiple counts of alleged racial and sexual discrimination, as well as harassment. The suit was filed in the New York Supreme Court by Arenson, Dittar & Karban -- a law firm specializing in labor rights and discrimination cases -- on September 14.
The 39-page lawsuit details a significant number of incidents where the plaintiffs claim to have been targeted with anti-black racial and sexual harassment and forced to work in a hostile environment. Incidents included constant use of the "n-word," addressing Black employees with derogatory terms, and inappropriate touching of female employees.
In a statement to Tasting Table, a Sweetgreen spokesperson said, "At Sweetgreen, we are committed to diversity as well as a safe and inclusive workplace. We take these accusations seriously and do not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination, or unsafe working conditions. We are unable to comment further on any pending legal matters."
Seven Sweetgreen Locations Were Cited
The incidents mentioned in the lawsuit involve at seven separate Sweetgreen locations in New York City. A common thread throughout the plaintiffs' accusations is a lack of response regarding these incidents from upper management and "People Support," Sweetgreen's human resources department. In many cases, the plaintiffs claimed that management enforced no meaningful discipline and ignored the plaintiffs' requests to transfer to other locations.
In addition to the use of derogatory terms and sexual harassment, the complaint also claimed multiple instances where Hispanic employees were favored by management at the expense of Black employees when it came to shift scheduling, work tasks, and promotions. One plaintiff also cited a case of wage theft in which Sweetgreen failed to backpay over two weeks' worth of wages that were initially withheld due to an error with the time clock.
In total, the lawsuit cited four causes of action: Racial discrimination, gender discrimination, violation of minimum wage, and aiding, abetting, and inciting a hostile work environment. At the time of writing, no court date has been set.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.