Irony, Thy Name is Taco Bell

     INDIANPOLIS (CN) – Taco Bell fired a general manager who had worked for it for 27 years after a higher-up saw a Latino employee in her restaurant and told her, “Didn’t I tell you not to hire Hispanics?” the former manager claims in court.
     Juanita O’Connell sued Taco Bell of America in Federal Court. They are the only parties to the lawsuit.
     O’Connell, 60, a Mexican-American, had worked at Taco bell since Jan. 10, 1987, and was the general manager of an outlet when she was fired, she says in the lawsuit.
     The complaint states: “During the course of plaintiff’s employment, defendant’s Company Operations Leader, Mark Lewis, told plaintiff not to hire Hispanics.
     “Plaintiff complained to defendant’s management that such conduct on the part of
     Lewis was discriminatory.
     “Subsequently, Lewis came to plaintiff’s store location and saw a Hispanic employee by the name of Feliciano Romero. Lewis remarked to plaintiff, ‘Didn’t I tell you not to hire Hispanics?’ or words to that effect.
     Approximately two (2) weeks later, plaintiff’s area coach, Bryan Smith, issued plaintiff a disciplinary warning after asking plaintiff misleading questions about her operation.
     “Only three (3) hours later, Smith terminated plaintiff’s employment, alleging that she violated the Manager Code and had an ‘I-9’ violation.”
     An I-9 is an immigrant work authorization form.
     O’Connell says she was replaced by a 25-year-old black man.
     O’Connell seeks lost wages, costs, and damages for civil rights violations (42 U.S.C. §1981), and nationality and gender discrimination.
     She is represented by Joel Paul, with Ramey & Haley.
     Taco Bell, based in Irvine, Calif., has more than 6,500 outlets, most of them in the United States. It has more than 175,000 employees and about $2 billion a year in revenue.
     It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut. Yum! has more outlets than any other fast-food chain in the world – more than 40,000 of them. It reports annual revenue of about $13 billion.

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