Suit: Homeless man jailed after trying to eat at Burger King

In this Wednesday, May 16, 2018 photo Emory Ellis, of Boston, sits for a photo in a park, in Boston. Ellis was arrested in 2015 after he tried to buy breakfast at Burger King using a $10 bill that the cashier thought was fake. Ellis’ arrest resulted in a probation violation that landed him in jail for three months before prosecutors dropped the charge when authorities determined the bill was real. Ellis is suing Burger King accusing them in a lawsuit filed this week of discriminating against him because he’s black and homeless. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON — Emory Ellis, a black homeless man in Boston, was hungry so he went to Burger King one morning in 2015. But instead of breakfast, Ellis got a ride to the police station and more than three months in jail after he was wrongfully accused of using counterfeit cash, he says.

Now Ellis is suing the fast food giant and franchisee for nearly $1 million, saying he was discriminated against because of his appearance. The lawsuit comes on the heels of recent cases of police being called on black people that have sparked uproar and claims of racial profiling.

Ellis' attorney said the cashier likely wouldn't have questioned if the money was real if a white man in a suit handed him the same bill. Even if he did, the cashier probably would have apologized and said he couldn't accept the cash instead of calling police, attorney Justin Drechsler said.

"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's white.

A Burger King Corp. spokesperson said the company does not tolerate discrimination "of any kind," but cannot comment on the specifics of the case. The company said the franchisee is responsible for employee training and handling legal matters about the location.

Two Guys Foods, Inc., the franchisee, didn't immediately return a phone message on Wednesday. A number for the cashier, who's also named in the complaint, couldn't be found in public records and it wasn't immediately clear if he has a lawyer.

Ellis' lawsuit, which was first reported by digital legal news service Law360, was filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court. He's seeking $950,000.

Ellis was arrested in November 2015 and charged with forgery of a bank note. His arrest triggered a probation violation and he was held without bail until his final probation violation hearing, according to the lawsuit.

He wasn't released from jail until February 2016, when prosecutors dropped the forgery charge after the Secret Service concluded Ellis' bill was real, the lawsuit says.

Ellis, 37, never got his money back, the lawsuit says.

"Nobody deserves to be treated the way that Emory was treated," Drechsler said.

The lawsuit comes weeks after the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks and other cases that have shined a spotlight on minorities' interactions with law enforcement.

Starbucks says its employees will receive racial-bias training after an employee called police on the black men because they hadn't bought anything.

And at Yale University earlier this month, a white student called campus police about a black graduate student who had fallen asleep while working on a paper.

___

Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://twitter.com/aedurkinricher . Read more of her work at http://bit.ly/2hIhzDb .

You may also interested in

Self-driving cars go public; Uber offers rides in Pittsburgh

Aug 18, 2016

The option to hail a ride in a self-driving car will soon be available to Uber users in Pittsburgh

US stocks take small losses as energy companies slide

Aug 19, 2016

US stocks take small losses as the dollar regains a bit of strength and energy companies trade lower

Officials: Zika won't hurt South Florida tourism in long run

Aug 20, 2016

The discovery of Zika-carrying mosquitoes in South Florida certainly isn't ideal for tourism, but local officials and business leaders are confident the long-term impact on the tourism industry will be minor

People also read these

Gap offers muted outlook for annual earnings, lower profit

Aug 18, 2016

Gap offers a downbeat annual profit outlook after reporting a 43 percent drop in net income for the second quarter

Zika researchers seeking volunteers willing to be infected

Aug 19, 2016

Researchers looking for volunteers willing to be infected with the Zika virus as part of effort to develop vaccines

Beer mega merger: what court ruling means for troubled deal

Aug 23, 2016

A British court has recommended that two classes of shareholders be created and vote separately on AB InBev's 79 billion pound ($104 billion) takeover of SABMiller

Emporium Post fulfils the need to know all things about consumers and how businesses can take this opportunity to reach their own customers.

Contact us: sales@emporiumpost.com

Join our mailing list now!