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Steak 'n Shake Sued by Former Employee Over Racial and Disability Discrimination

The former employee alleges a co-worker once dumped a milkshake on his head and his manager just laughed.


A former Steak 'n Shake employee has filed a lawsuit against the chain over racial and disability discrimination. According to, Brandon Waters says he was subject to insulting nicknames, racial slurs, and physical harassment while working at a location of the restaurant in Ohio. Waters is biracial and was born with an infection that "affects his motor and speech skills," and he says in his lawsuit that his former co-worker Timothy Schoeffler, and his former manager, Nick Karl used that as an excuse to "harass, intimidate, and abuse" him.

According to the lawsuit, Schoeffler and Karl would call Waters "Radio," which is a reference to a film in which Cuba Gooding Jr. played a mentally disabled student. Karl even went so far as supposedly creating a "Radio" name tag that Waters refused to wear. Schoeffler once dumped a milkshake on Waters' head, in front of Karl, and both of the men laughed and then discussed the incident on Twitter. While both men have now deleted their accounts, screenshots of the tweets submitted to the court include references to "Radio" and racist messages like "the white way is the right way."

Waters complained about the harassment and the restaurant fired Karl and let Schoeffler resign, but Waters says he still felt too afraid to show up to work because "other employees and managers either tolerated or participated in the harassment." This made him scared to go to work, which resulted in his 2011 firing from the chain. So now, he is suing Steak 'n Shake for "failing to provide a harassment-free work environment." Eater has reached out to Steak 'n Shake for comment.

This isn't the first time a chain has been sued for discrimination by a former employee. In June, a former McDonald's worker at a location in Connecticut filed a lawsuit saying that she was "subject to a hostile work environment" because she is gay. The woman claims that her supervisors made comments about her in Spanish and told her that she was not allowed to work "next to another female employee" even though it was necessary for them to do so to perform their jobs. Just months before that, former McDonald's employees filed a lawsuit backed by the NAACP that alleged racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination. The lawsuit claims that a McDonald's manager referred to black employees as "bitch," "ratchet," and "ghetto," and to a Hispanic employees as "dirty Mexican."

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