In a federal lawsuit filed last month in the Northern District Court of Texas, a Euless man and 10-year employee of Whataburger claims he was wrongfully terminated for marrying an African-American woman. Court documents say Michael Young was warned that Whataburger management was "old school" and that his relationship could get him in trouble with higher-ups. Despite his region's superior performance to other store "zones," which Young says he can back up with corporate accounting documents, Young claims he was fired and replaced with less-qualified staff.
"Michael Young is an upstanding guy who worked for Whataburger for a long time and did really well for them," says Joseph Gillespie, Young's lawyer. He tells Unfair Park that Young "ran into a glass ceiling" when he started seeing his wife, and was "denied promotions and then terminated."
From the original complaint:
Clifton Rutledge, the Regional Director, explained to Young what he needed to do to advance his career with Whataburger. Young was told by Rutledge to watch who he was dating. Rutledge, who knew Young was white and that Young was dating an African-American woman told Young that the Dobson family is "old school" and who Young dated or married could negatively impact his career and promotions within the company.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Young did not take his superior's warning to heart, says Gillespie. "He continued to date who he wanted to date and it turned out badly for him." Though Gillespie wouldn't go into detail, he told Unfair Park that Young was earning a six-figure salary for which he's seeking compensation.
Whataburger just filed a response to Young's claims on Monday, wherein the company denies his claims of discrimination. We've been playing phone tag with Whataburger's whatapublicists for the past month, and they sent over this statement today:
"While we can't discuss pending litigation, Whataburger is proud of its diverse family of employees, the positive work environment we have created and the equal opportunities we make available to all of our employees. We will vigorously defend our reputation should this action go to trial."
Nothing a nice conversation over a lil' Triple Meat & Triple Cheese can't solve. Right?