Sweetgreen sued by New York workers for alleged racial discrimination

Workers prepare apples and avocados inside a Sweetgreen Inc. restaurant.

Adam Glanzman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ten Sweetgreen employees are suing the salad chain, alleging racial discrimination at seven of its New York City restaurants.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in New York Supreme Court in the Bronx, alleges that the plaintiffs’ co-workers and managers subjected them to daily use of the N-word and other racist comments.

The complaint also alleges that managers failed to hire or promote qualified Black employees and gave preferential treatment to Hispanic workers. The plaintiffs allege that store managers said Hispanic people work harder than African Americans and called Black employees lazy.

The plaintiffs also claim complaints to upper management, including Sweetgreen’s human resources department, were ignored for years.

The lawsuit claims managers sexually harassed female workers, making sexual comments and touching them inappropriately.

“At Sweetgreen, we are committed to diversity as well as a safe and inclusive workplace. We take these accusations seriously and do not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination, or unsafe working conditions,” a Sweetgreen spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC.

The spokesperson said the company was unable to comment further on pending legal matters.

The plaintiffs are seeking monetary and punitive damages and payment of attorneys’ fees.

The lawsuit was originally filed in March with only two plaintiffs. Thursday’s amended complaint includes eight new plaintiffs and adds more restaurants.

The seven Manhattan locations named in the lawsuit include restaurants in the Meatpacking District, the Financial District, Greenwich Village, Midtown East, the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side.

Companies are liable for their managers’ discriminatory conduct under New York City law.

The lawsuit also names two of Sweetgreen’s “head coaches,” or general managers, as defendants.

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