A Black man has accused Wendy’s of discrimination after a store employee in New Mexico identified him as “Darkie” on his receipt when he bought food in January. Wendy’s says the allegations don’t align with the company’s core values and could be the result of a misunderstanding.
A few days after George Floyd’s death in May at the hands of Minneapolis police, Wendy’s said it would donate $500,000 to social justice programs.
“Our voice would be nothing without Black culture. Right now, a lot of people are hurting because of blatant racism against Black people. Their voices need to be heard,” the company tweeted.
Our voice would be nothing without Black culture. Right now, a lot of people are hurting because of blatant racism against Black people. Their voices need to be heard. Period. #BlackLivesMatter— Wendy's (@Wendys) June 3, 2020
But a few months before that, a Black customer at a Wendy’s restaurant in New Mexico says he saw another side of the Dublin-based chain.
Derrick Cage was at a Wendy’s in Albuquerque on Jan. 3 with two other people when he walked to the counter to place his order.
A manager at the store typed his identifying information on the receipt for the order as “Darkie,” according to a lawsuit Cage filed this week in New Mexico, charging that Wendy’s violated New Mexico law by discriminating against him.
Other defendants include Colorado and New Mexico franchisees of Wendy’s, Wendy’s of Colorado Springs and the company WEN New Mexico.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified monetary damages. Cage and his attorney, Paul Linnenburger, said the case is really about addressing racism.
Cage, 36, said that when he approached the store manager about what she wrote on the receipt, “she kind of giggled. She thought it was funny.” He later posted the receipt on social media.Flex-A-Fill from Crafco Now Available at Home DepotSponsored by For Construction ProsSee More
Wendy’s reached out and offered store coupons. He later was offered sums of $1,000 to $3,000 if he would remove a social media post about what had happened, according to the lawsuit.
“It was really irritating, to be honest. Something like that happens and you offer coupons? That was kind of like another slap in the face,” Cage said.
He said the case is largely about calling out bad behavior and getting Wendy’s to take responsibility for what happened.
“I don’t know if that would completely resolve it. It would show I’m trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s my main concern,” he said.
Cage said part of his fight is about his two children, ages 10 and 12. “I stood up to make sure my kids, other kids of my race, don’t have to go through this type of stuff,” he said.
Wendy’s said in a statement that the allegations don’t reflect what the company is about. It also noted that the incident happened at a Wendy’s that is owned by a franchisee.
“The allegations do not align with our brand’s core values, and as we understand it, may arise out of a misunderstanding,” the company said. “It’s also our understanding that the details in the complaint do not reflect all the facts of the situation.
“The franchisee involved has assured us that they have investigated the matter thoroughly, and we expect they will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”
Linnenburger, Cage’s attorney, said other companies have taken steps to address diversity and inclusion, including training for employees. Wendy’s needs to do more, he said.
“In general, there is concern with corporate America hopping on the bandwagon and not taking action to back it up,” he said.