In a lawsuit filed March 2, former Shipley Do-Nuts employees allege that the company's owner groped them and used racial slurs, which is inline with lawsuits dating back to 2004, according to the Houston Chronicle
These employees, all Hispanic females, claim that owner Lawrence Shipley III
regularly touched them without consent, behaved inappropriately and made unwelcome sexual comments toward them.
The Harris County lawsuit, obtained by the Chronicle
, alleges that the owner hugged one of the women, Elizabeth Peralta, "tight across her front and touched her rear and buttocks."
The lawsuit also alleges that Shipley would stare at Peralta's breasts and crotch, and even spanked her on her rear.
The other women allege that Shipley had the same behavior with them during their time at one of the chain's locations. Another plaintiff, Esmeralda Sanchez, claims in the suit that the owner didn't punish a male supervisor
who made sexual innuendos toward her, but instead said her appearance encouraged the harassment.
The third plaintiff, Martha Garcia, claims that Shipley locked her inside one of the company-owned homes while he was armed with the gun and patrolled the premises, according to the lawsuit. These claims were supported by a 2006 lawsuit filed by 15 employees which illustrated a hostile work environment
. According to the Houston newspaper, managers threatened employees with guns. One manager reportedly told employees that "killing a wetback is like killing a dog" and that no one would care.
In that same 2006 lawsuit, the employees said they were groped and touched inappropriately
while working at the company factory. Some plaintiffs said they were groped with used sex toys that the manager required them to use. Other plaintiffs said they were forced to clean the manager's shoes while others were physically assaulted
Houston's KPRC reports that all three plaintiffs were terminated
in December 2016. The women are seeking more than $1 million in damages
, according to the Chronicle
The same women are also suing the company for failing to pay overtime
in a lawsuit filed in 2017. The Chronicle
reports that this allegation has been lodged against the company many times in the past.
According to the Chronicle
, lawsuits against the company have been filed as far back as 2006 for threatening and calling a former employee a "wetback." In 2008, the company paid a $1.5 million fine in 2008 for conspiring to harbor "illegal aliens."
The most recent lawsuit
filed by the women claimed that owner Shipley still uses that same slur and made other comments about their race, including calling one of the plaintiff's husband a "Mexican in a white shirt." The suit also alleges that Shipley mocked their accents and regularly asked one of the plaintiffs if she was "legal" to work in the United States despite knowing that she is.
On Sunday, Shipley called the accusations "baseless" and "pathetic" and the women "low lifes" in an email to the Chronicle