Two McDonald's employees in Queens are suing the company due to its abject failure to protect them from the numerous unbelievably inappropriate actions of their racist, gropey former manager.
Vanessa Harris and Kimberley Mealer were both assistant managers at the same Queens McDonald's location as their boss, Michael Lauria. Apparently, almost from moment one, they were both victims of some truly horrific shit.
Before we even get to the allegations (and holy crap, there are a lot of them), some of you are doubtless thinking "I bet he just said they looked nice, that's not discrimination! FEMINISTS RUIN EVERYTHING EXCEPT MY FEDORA!" OK, then. How about you have a look at this:
The suit, filed Thursday in Brooklyn Federal Court, alleges that Lauria, who is white, frequently called his employees "n———," "my n———," and "You n——— need to get it together."
Wow. That's a hell of a start.
"On several occasions, Mr. Lauria commented 'It's hotter than Africa in here,'" the suit alleges. Lauria also said the restaurant was busy at the beginning of the month because black customers "received their welfare checks," according to the suit.
Yikes. OK, what about the gross, blatantly sexual stuff?
"'Have I told you the one about my penis? Oh, never mind, it's too long,'" the suit alleges.
Oh just wow. ETA: One commenter referred to this as "a misogynistic dad joke." Too perfect.
The references to his private parts occurred at least once a week, according to the suit, with other sickening lines such as: "'Do you know why they call me Big Mike?' about which Mr. Lauria was referring to his penis because he would simultaneously thrust his pelvis into the air each time he made this comment," according to the suit.
Let's just all read that paragraph back a few times. Go ahead. Let it percolate.
"On another occasion when Mr. Lauria was driving Ms. Harris to another McDonald's location, he asked Ms. Harris what exit to take. When Ms. Harris answered that the exit was N19, Mr. Lauria responded by saying that the 'N' was for 'N——-ville,'" the suit alleges.
Basically, he just really, really, REALLY wanted to say the n-word.*
But wait, what about the groping?
Lauria allegedly groped and touched the women's bodies as he walked past them in tight spaces in the restaurant.
Aaaaand there it is.
So, now that we've established that the allegations are both serious and horrifying (desperate internet chucklefucks: please, please try to defend those actions as OK. Please try. I want to watch you flail miserably), doubtless some
shitheads upstanding internet citizens are going to say "they can't blame the company for this, these are the actions of a rogue manager!"
Harris complained to a McDonald's human resources representative but she alleges nothing was done.
When Mealer transferred to the restaurant she claims she was also subjected to the same harassment with the company already on notice about Lauria's alleged behavior.
So we've refuted the whole "the allegations aren't that bad" and "the company isn't at fault" dog whistles for "I don't give a shit about food service workers because I'm an asshole" that some people are sure to forward. But what about that third chestnut? You know, the old classic, "but they're just allegations; they can't be proven. They probably made the whole thing up!"
Happily, their lawyer, James Vagnini, has an answer for that:
Vagnini said the women have retained inappropriate text messages and racially charged videos that Lauria sent to them. Lauria denied to company officials that he used racial epithets and said some of the videos were just "jokes" that he had been emailed and forwarded them to other employees, Vagnini said. The suit mentions a video text message of a cartoon of a white man spraying a water hose at black children.
Ooooooooh, busted — they kept the proof that dude was a scumbag. Nice.
I'd also like to point out that the "it's just a joke!" defense is the go-to defense every time someone says something truly fucked-up and gets called on it. If he's operating from the standard playbook, Lauria's next public statement will include the words "I have black women friends."
McDonald's has vowed that the allegations are all false and that they'll defend themselves, so here's hoping Harris and Mealer have the evidence Vagnini mentioned and that they absolutely destroy the company in court.
* I've always wondered why so many white people are desperate to be allowed to say that word. It's never made sense to me — it's a truly atrocious word, why the hell would you care that much about whether you get to say it?
Then, about a year ago, another commenter (who is also white) pointed something out that I hadn't considered: saying the n-word is the one thing in the world white people are specifically told we're not allowed to do, and we're really, really, REALLY bad about being told we can't do something (since we live in a society where we're the ones allowed to do whatever the fuck we want).
Basically, if you desperately try to claim you get to say the n-word, you're a five-year-old who refuses to go to bed on time, except you're also a horrible fucking racist.
Image via 360b/Shutterstock.