Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2006 Page: 23 of 72
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and one groped her several times, she said.
One day in June 2001, she tried quitting. "I
walked off the line," she said. "I couldn't take it
Usher said a manager went after her and asked
her to come back to work. He said he'd talk to
one of the workers and would reprimand him, she
That manager, Peter Lootens, later testified
that while he remembered persuading Usher to
come back to work, he couldn't remember what
had happened that made her want to quit.
"I just don't remember what the incident was,"
said Lootens, who now works for Cracker Barrel
in Davenport, Iowa. He said he did not file any
report about what happened that day but men-
tioned that the company has an "open-door" pol-
icy form for employees if they have complaints.
Usher first joined the Londonderry restaurant
in 2000 under a different manager. In 2001, sev-
eral managers were fired and a new team, includ-
ing Lootens, was brought in.
Lootens testified that while Usher was a com-
petent grill cook she was difficult to manage.
"She wanted things her way," he said. "She
wanted them to be the way before any of us ever
got there. ... Bonnie was not open to change."
Lootens noted that on her evaluations, Usher
was told she needed improvement in cooperating
with her co-workers and working as part of a
team. On some those evaluations, she scored
below the minimum amount of points she need-
ed to take a test for a higher-paying position, a
goal that Usher said she sought.
Usher claims that she lost wages and that men
were promoted over her during the time she com-
plained about the way she was treated. She even-
tually filed her complaint in 2003 and no longer
was with Cracker Barrel in 2004.
Usher said she couldn't leave Cracker Barrel
because she had difficulty finding other work,
and eventually was fired. Cracker Barrel says she
was not fired.
The company, a subsidiary of CBRL Group
Inc., is based in Lebanon, Tenn. It says it was
unaware of Usher's complaints, but disputes the
Lee MacPhee, a Cracker Barrel lawyer, asked
Usher why she never put her complaints in writ-
ing or addressed them during her evaluations.
She said she thought talking to managers in per-
son and over the phone at company headquarters
was enough; she also said the evaluations only
addressed her performance.
Usher's hearing before the commission is
expected to continue at a date to be scheduled.
Usher's complaint is not the first time Cracker
Barrel has come under fire from GLBT rights
activists. In 1991, Cracker Barrel instituted a pol-
icy requiring employees to display "normal het-
erosexual values which have been the foundation
of families in our society."
The company refused to change its policy in
the face of protests by gay rights groups until
2002 when the company's stockholders voted to
rescind the practice. The move came after 10
years of efforts by the New York City Employees
Retirement System, a major shareholder.
The restaurant chain has also faced charges of
racial discrimination in its treatment of cus-
tomers. In 2004 the company agreed to an $8.7
million settlement to resolve all lawsuits brought
or supported by the NAAC-P that accused the
restaurant chain of segregating blacks in the
smoking section and denying them service.
Cracker Barrel is also one of eight companies
indicted and accused of making illegal campaign
contributions to the Texans for a Republican
Majority PAC started by Tom DeLay.
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2006, newspaper, February 17, 2006; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth238896/m1/23/: accessed November 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.