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Boss of the Week

CHICAGO (CN) - A McDonald's franchise owner fired a man for missing a shift when his newborn son died at a hospital, telling him "not to bring (his) black ass back to work," the man claims in court.

Jentri Casaberry sued Kandice Enterprises and its president Keith Allen Sr. in Cook County Court. The defendants own and run a McDonald's outlet in Chicago.

Casaberry worked as a swing shift manager.

He says in the complaint: "On July 6, 2011, Mr. Casaberry's girlfriend, Nya Prude, went into premature labor and on July 8, 2011, gave birth to Mr. Casaberry's son, Nyeem Casaberry.

"Mr. Casaberry had been staying at the hospital with Nya since the 6th. During this time, he would shower at the hospital and go straight to work, returning to the hospital when his shift ended.

"Nyeem was born while Mr. Casaberry was at work on July 8, 2011.

"Mr. Casaberry called his immediate supervisor, Jacqueline Carter, and explained the situation and asked her if she could come in a little early so he could go to the hospital to meet his son.

"Jacqueline agreed to come in at 5:00 a.m., and Mr. Casaberry left for the hospital at 5:00 a.m.

"Shortly after his birth, on July 10, 2011, while Nyeem was still in the hospital, he developed an infection."

Nyeem was put in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Casaberry returned to the hospital after every shift, he says in the complaint.

It continues: "On July 13, 2011, Nya called Mr. Casaberry as he was leaving work and stated that he needed to get to the hospital immediately.

"Mr. Casaberry left work at 7:00 a.m. and went straight to the hospital.

"He spoke to the doctors who said that Nyeem had had a seizure, and was on life support.

"A doctor and a specialist spoke with Mr. Casaberry and Nya, and explained that Nyeem was not going to survive due to multiple organ failure.

"Mr. Casaberry stayed at the hospital, a preacher came to baptize Nyeem, and family came to see Nyeem.

"As the day continued, the doctors informed Mr. Casaberry that Nyeem was continuing to decline.

"At 4:30 p.m., Mr. Casaberry sent a text message to Jacqueline Carter to inform her of the situation and ask her to find someone to work his shift.

"Jacqueline Carter responded via text message, 'I'm sooo [sic] sorry.'

"She later replied in a text message, that she would find someone to cover the shift.

"She found a replacement, Julian Martin, who covered the shift from 11:00 p.m. - 7:00 a.m.

"At 9:15 p.m. on July 13, 2011, Nyeem passed away."

Next day at around 5 p.m., Casaberry got a call from work.

"Initially he spoke with Warren, who sent his condolences," the complaint states.

"In the background, Mr. Casaberry heard [Keith] Allen yelling.

"He could not hear Allen clearly, so he asked to speak with Allen.

"Mr. Casaberry spoke with Allen, and tried to explain what had occurred in the last 24 hours.

"Allen stated that it wasn't his problem and that he (Mr. Casaberry) should have come to work anyway. He said Mr. Casaberry was 'done' and not to 'bring (his) black ass back to work.'

"Mr. Casaberry explained that his son had just died in his arms, and Allen replied, 'so what.'

"Mr. Casaberry began to cry, at which point, Allen called him a 'dumbass' and hug up the phone.

"Mr. Casaberry was fired on July 14, 2011 by Allen." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Four days later, Casaberry says, he "spoke with his mentor, Lenny McAllister, who is a radio talk show host [on] WVON 1390 AM ... and told him what had happened."

McAllister called Allen to get his side of the story, and then "quoted what Allen had said during that conversation on his radio program on July 21, 2011," the complaint states.

It continues: "A few days later, Allen's secretary called Mr. Casaberry and asked him to retract his statements on the radio, and also asked Mr. Casaberry to give Allen an on air apology.

"Mr. Casaberry refused and she called him 'ignorant' and hung up the phone.

On Sept. 26, Casaberry says, he got a phone call.

"A voice that Mr. Casaberry did not recognize said 'Watch your back, you gon [sic] die' and then hung up the phone," the complaint states.

"The next morning, Mr. Casaberry went to the police station, and gave the number that called, and reported the threat.

"Mr. Casaberry believes that defendant Allen, or his agent called and made the threat, because police found that the number was from a McDonald's from 55th and Michigan Ave.

"The McDonald's at that location is owned by Allen."

Casaberry seeks punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by Alice Setrini with the Legal Assistance Foundation.

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