Chili's seeks arbitration in racial termination suit

David Yates Jul. 13, 2011, 9:43am

Chili's Restaurant is seeking to force a former manager, who claims she lost her job based on the color of her skin, to the arbitration table.

As previously reported, Anjonette Henderson filed suit May 24 in Jefferson County District Court against Brinker International, doing business as Chili's Restaurant, and Stephen Pilant.

On June 24 Chili's filed a motion to stay proceedings and compel arbitration, arguing that Henderson agreed to arbitrate any claims when she began employment with the company on June 20, 2006.

The motion states that Chili's favors arbitration "because of, among other things, the delay and expense which result from the use of the court systems."

According to the lawsuit, Henderson claims she worked at Chili's as a manager for its Silsbee location when she lost her job on March 4, 2010.

"The Defendants, through Mr. Stephen Pilant, wrongly and falsely accused Plaintiff of theft, as a pretext for this termination," the suit states.

"Plaintiff would show that accusing an employee of theft wrongfully is malicious per se, and was clearly done for the purposes of causing the maximum harm to Plaintiff and to try to cover up the violations of the Texas Labor Code."

Henderson claims Chili's wrongfully terminated her, violating the Texas Labor Code's anti-discrimination provisions.

In her complaint, Henderson seeks actual, punitive and statutory damages, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

John M. Morgan of Harris, Duesler and Hatfield in Beaumont represents her.

Chili's is represented by Beaumont attorney Robert Hambright of Orgain Bell & Tucker.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. A190-091

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