Pennsylvania Panera Bread Franchisee: No Black Employees In Public View
Covelli Enterprises has agreed to pay over $76,000 in a discrimination lawsuit settlement. The Ohio-based franchisee who runs several Panera Bread stores in western Pennsylvania is alleged to have discriminated against Black employees.
On Monday, Chief U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster ordered that the settlement should be advertised in newspapers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Kentucky and West Virginia, where Covelli is a franchisee of Panera Bread.
Guy Vines, the Black worker who sued Covelli, claimed that he was not considered for promotions and was even forced to work in the kitchen, in the back, where all Black employees were required to work, by the owner. The owner, Sam Covelli allegedly did not want any Black employees in the front of the stores where the public could see them. According to Vines’ attorney, Samuel Cordes, between 200 and 300 Black employees may be eligible to receive money from the settlement.
Online court records reveal that as the lead plaintiff, Vines will receive $10,000 while his attorney will receive $66,000 in legal fees. Covelli will also pay an additional amount which will depend on how many past and present employees come forward to claim that they were also discriminated against.
All past and present Covelli employees who worked for the company between Jan. 11, 2008 and Jan. 11, 2012 are eligible to come forward and file a claim.
Inspite of settling, Covelli continues to deny any wrongdoing. The settlemt states,
“Covelli maintains that is it an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate, nor has it ever discriminated, in its employment decisions.”
Attorneys on both sides declined to comment on the lawsuit.