Lawsuit alleges restaurant manager banned speaking Spanish

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Three former Five Guys Burgers employees are taking the restaurant chain to court, claiming they were fired after speaking out when a district manager went on a "racially offensive tirade" targeting Spanish speakers.

Jose Cora told Eyewitness News he filed a lawsuit against Five Guys to show his daughters they should never be afraid to stand up and speak out.

"I didn't know what to do. I was dumbfounded by what they did," Cora said during a phone interview.

The lawsuit stems back to an alleged incident in December 2014. Court documents claim a Five Guys district manager made racist remarks during a meeting with other managers.

According to the lawsuit, he said in part, "Speaking Spanish was not permitted. Everyone needed to remember what country we live in.... Anyone who does not speak English should not be here. Ninety nine percent of the time when employees speak Spanish, they are talking about you."

The next day, employees at that meeting brought up the incident to Cora, who at the time was the general manager for the Fry Rd. location.

"They were so [upset] that they didn't want to work for the company anymore," he said.

Cora, along with his shift manager and another Five Guys general manager, all filed complaints. Months later, all three were fired from Five Guys for different reasons.

"This is a kind of scenario that we as employment lawyers deal with as retaliation that happens after somebody complains," said David Holmes, who represents the three men.

Holmes said the essence of this case is not so much the alleged racist remarks, but rather that his clients were fired after speaking out.

"I own my own business now . It's not about the money or anything like that. [Five Guys] needs to restructure their organization as far as the way they treat Hispanics," said Cora.

When asked for comment, Five Guys said the company does not "comment on pending litigation."

Click here to read the full text of the lawsuit.
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