On Thursday, Sweetgreen was named in a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court for discriminating against employees for their race. The suit, filed by 10 Black workers, alleges that these workers were subjected to being called the “N-word” daily, among other slurs, at seven Sweetgreen stores in the New York area.
The complaint was originally filed by two Black workers in March, but has grown to 10 workers in the past few weeks. The seven units cited in the complaint are 32 Gansevoort Street, 55th Street & Park Avenue, 67 Wall Street, 38th Street & Broadway, 71st Street & First Avenue, 67th Street & Columbus Avenue, and 12th Street & University Place.
In addition to being called the “N-word,” the plaintiffs alleged that they suffered a pattern of racial discrimination including comments from coworkers who referred to them daily as “monkeys,” “gorilla,” “lazy,” and other slurs, according to the suit.
“For too many Black employees, having to listen to managers and co-workers use racial slurs is just a part of their daily work environment,” said Avi Mermelstein of Arenson, Dittmar & Karban, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “That’s both wrong and illegal. Being exposed to constant harassment creates a hostile and psychologically unsafe work environment and companies simply must do better to protect their employees.”
In addition to the slurs, the lawsuit alleges that there was racial discrimination when it came to hiring. There were also accusations of sexual harassment.
According to the filing, “female employees faced sexual harassment from managers including inappropriate touching, dancing with twerking female subordinates, and comments to and about female employees and customers such as, ‘She looks good. I would do her,’ and ‘Wow, you better be careful how you bend over.’”
Complaints made directly to Sweetgreen fell on deaf ears, according to the plaintiffs.
A Sweetgreen spokesperson emailed the following statement to Nation’s Restaurant News: “At Sweetgreen, we are committed to diversity as well as a safe and inclusive workplace. We take these accusations seriously and do not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination, or unsafe working conditions. We are unable to comment further on any pending legal matters.