Hoboken resident Quan Dunlap, joined by his attorney Louis Zayas, announced this morning that they filed a multi-faceted lawsuit against McDonald’s for an alleged incident from May 2017 where Dunlap says he was a victim of racism.
According to the lawsuit, Dunlap walked into the McDonald’s on Washington Street in Hoboken to order a meal. He was initially told by a McDonald’s employee that she would serve Dunlap, but only under the condition that he couldn’t eat his meal inside the establishment.
He was so shocked by her response that he left with his order, only to return shortly after to question the same employee why he couldn’t sit in the establishment.
In a one-on-one interview, Dunlap reiterated his account of what happened.
“At first, she just said that I could be served but couldn’t stay. She only said that I could stay, for 20 minutes, only after I came back to question her,” Dunlap said.
He told us the humiliation he suffered as a result of the employee’s directive.
“When she first told me, I felt demeaned and it dehumanized me. I was depressed, and it made me feel that I was a third-class citizen, just like it was [during] Jim Crow,” Dunlap added.
Zayas was quick to say that the main thrust of the lawsuit, after we asked what would be considered a fair and reasonable monetary settlement, is to change McDonald’s corporate culture so that similar incidents don’t happen to other patrons.
“Whatever the jury awards will be fair, and that’s what the lawsuit says … an amount to be determined by a jury. Whatever the jury awards us: it will be fine. The key here is to change the culture at McDonald’s,” added Zayas.
During the press conference in front of the fast food establishment this morning, Zayas conveyed a similar message.
“As the case involving Starbucks, it’s [about] creating more systemic protocols … What happened here clearly constitutes a failure in handling the situation correctly, it’s a violation of law and clearly [the employees] weren’t properly trained,” Zayas said.
He noted that what happened to Dunlap might not be an isolated incident.
“We want to make sure it stops, and make sure it’s not an isolated incident, maybe this is not the only McDonald’s that has this problem. Maybe it’s widespread, we don’t know. The lawsuit will determine whether this is an ongoing problem.”
An email sent to the McDonald’s corporate press office was not immediately returned on Tuesday.