"For months [the manager] treated me like a worthless employee," Aremy Lomely, a former Panda Express employee, told the Oakland Tribune. "I felt so ashamed when the Asian workers watched me obediently run from the bathroom to the tables to the counters, cleaning when they did not have to."
Lomely is part of a federal court filing against a San Jose Panda Express restaurant that allegedly forced Latino employees to clean toilets and perform other menial tasks while Asian employees of equal ranking stood by and watched. According to the suit, the manager of the restaurant also punished Latino employees more often and more harshly, frequently cutting Latino employee hours and awarding them to Asian employees instead. According to SFGate, the allegations occurred from 2008 to 2009, and the restaurant has since hired new management.
The suit alleges that the company violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination based on ethnicity.
The U.S. Equal Employment Commission announced the suit on Wednesday, demanding that the restaurant award employees monetary damages and enforce strict anti-discrimination training, according to San Jose Mercury News.
The restaurant was contacted for comment, but according to CBS, a Panda Express spokesman stated that the company refuses to discuss pending litigation.
The San Jose franchise is no stranger to trouble. According to the Tribune, the same Panda Express location was sued in September for firing an employee when she complained about another employee's "inappropriate sexual behavior." The restaurant settled in April, awarding the employee $25,000 and offering to rehire her.
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