Emory Ellis, who is suing Burger King for nearly $1million in a discrimination lawsuit
A homeless man is suing Burger King for nearly $1million after he was wrongfully accused of using counterfeit cash.
Emory Ellis, 37, from Boston, was jailed for more than three months after paying a visit to the fast food chain one morning in November 2015.
He tried to pay with a $10 bill but was arrested and charged with forgery of a bank note – even though it was real.
Now he is taking legal action against the US franchisee, claiming he was discriminated against because he is black.
Ellis’ attorney said the cashier likely wouldn’t have questioned if the money was real if a white man in a suit handed him the same bill.
Even if he did, the cashier probably would have apologized and said he couldn’t accept the cash instead of calling police, attorney Justin Drechsler said.
‘A person like me would’ve gotten an apology, but a person like Emory somehow finds his way in handcuffs for trying to pay for his breakfast with real money,’ said Drechsler, who is white.
Ellis’ lawsuit was filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court. He is seeking $950,000.
A Burger King Corp. spokesperson said the company does not tolerate discrimination ‘of any kind’ but cannot comment on the specifics of the case.
The company said the franchisee is responsible for employee training and handling legal matters about the location.
Ellis’ arrest triggered a probation violation and he was held without bail until his final probation violation hearing, according to the lawsuit.
He wasn’t released from jail until February 2016, when prosecutors dropped the forgery charge after the Secret Service concluded Ellis’ bill was real, the lawsuit says.
Ellis never got his money back, the lawsuit says.
A Burger King Corp. spokesperson said the company does not tolerate discrimination ‘of any kind’
‘Nobody deserves to be treated the way that Emory was treated,’ Drechsler said.
The lawsuit comes weeks after the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks and other cases that have shined a spotlight on minorities’ interactions with law enforcement.
Starbucks says its employees will receive racial-bias training after an employee called police on the black men because they hadn’t bought anything.
And at Yale University earlier this month, a white student called campus police about a black graduate student who had fallen asleep while working on a paper.