Lawrence Shipley III, the owner of the Shipley Do-Nuts chain, faces a lawsuit from three former employees who allege that he groped them and used racial slurs. The Houston Chronicle reported on the allegations in the lawsuit, which was filed in Harris County on Friday.
The three female former employees claim that Shipley routinely commented on their race, calling them slurs like “wetback.” The employees also state in the lawsuit that Shipley “regularly subjected them to unwelcome touching, other inappropriate physical behavior and unwelcome sexual comments,” describing specific incidents.
One plaintiff alleged that instead of punishing a male supervisor who made sexual innuendos to her, Shipley told her that the way she dressed encouraged the behavior. Another alleges that Shipley hugged her, stared at her breasts and crotch areas, and spanked her rear.
The women seek more than $1 million in damages.
Shipley has denied the accusations. He also alleged to the Chronicle in an email that the accusers were caught “red-handed in an elaborate corruption scheme whereby they duped the Shipley companies and more than 20 franchisees out of legitimate delivery and freight services for their own financial gain.”
”And if I were to become somebody I’m not and stumble over to the dark side, it wouldn’t be with these low lifes,” he wrote. “What a baseless, pathetic accusation. That’s my comment.”
The attorney for the three women said she was unclear what Shipley meant by the statement, and was unaware of any legal actions against her clients.
The three women are also plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed against the company last year for failing to pay overtime, the Chronicle reports.
According to the report, the company has a history of employee-related incidents, including multiple citations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The company was ordered in 2006 to give back pay to a former employee who also alleged threats and racial slurs.