Homeless black man sues Burger King for a million dollars after they refused service and got him arrested
One morning in 2015, Emory Ellis, a black homeless man in Boston, was hungry so he went to Burger King. But instead of getting a satisfying meal, Ellis found himself hauled off to the police station.
He received more than three months in jail after being wrongfully accused of using counterfeit cash, he says.
Now Ellis is taking the fast food giant and franchisee to court to the tune of nearly $1 million, claiming that he was discriminated against because of his race. Racial profiling has been in the news a lot recently with everyone from police officers to regular citizens being accused of racial discrimination.
Ellis' attorney, Justin Drechsler, said the cashier likely would not have stopped to question the authenticity of the bill if it had come from a white man in a suit. Even if he were to do so, the cashier probably would have apologized and refused to accept the cash instead of calling the police, the attorney said, according to ABC11.
"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.
"Nobody deserves to be treated the way that Emory was treated," Drechsler said.
A spokesperson for Burger King said that the company does not tolerate discrimination "of any kind”. They did not, however, comment on the specifics of the case. The company denied responsibility and claimed that the franchisee is responsible for employee training and handling legal matters about the location.
There have not yet been any statements from Two Guys Foods, the franchisee, or the cashier in question. Ellis' lawsuit was filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court. He is seeking a total amount of $950,000 as damages for the injustice done unto him. Other victims of racism from restaurants have joined Ellis in raising their voices.
Ellis was arrested and charged with forgery of a banknote in November 2015. Ellis was under probation at the time and the arrest triggered a violation.
According to the lawsuit, he was held without bail until his final probation violation hearing could be conducted. African Americans are statistically more likely to be convicted once charged with a crime.
The man was not released from jail until February 2016. Finally, after the Secret Service concluded Ellis' bill was real, prosecutors dropped the forgery charge, the lawsuit says.
To add insult to injury, the 37-year-old homeless man did not even get his money back after being exonerated.