Allison Brown got more than just a sandwich and a couple of flatbread pizzas on a recent trip to Subway. The 45-year-old California woman said when she got home enjoy her lunch, she found a hurtful message scribbled on the box: Big Mama.
“I just broke down crying. I couldn’t eat it. I kept thinking, ‘Big Mama’ doesn’t need to eat. It started really messing with me. I started thinking, ‘Maybe I need surgery. Do I really look that bad? What’s wrong with me?'”
After noticing the remark, Brown contacted the store’s owner who confronted the employee.
“The owner said the employee didn’t know better, that he just didn’t get it,” Brown told The NY Daily News. “He begged me not to go to the media, so I tried to work with him, but then nobody was calling me back. It’s not right. This really hurt me.”
The Subway owner said he terminated the employee, but Brown took her grievance to the food chain’s corporate office. Brown felt her issue was getting ignored, so she hired a lawyer who sent a letter to Subway’s corporate office demanding sensitivity training for every employee.
In light of the incident, Subway offered Brown $5,000, but she turned the company down.
“This isn’t about money,” she explained. “This breaks my heart. Here Subway promotes itself as a place for people who need help eating better, then this happens. What if the wrong person got a box like mine? What if they saw that and tried to commit suicide?”
Her lawyer, Daniel Gilleon agrees: “They need to make sure all employees take training. And it’s something they should have done already. It should be in their franchise agreements. If they can dictate how thinly the onions on the sandwiches are sliced, they can and should do this.”
Gilleon said he’s going to file a lawsuit against Subway if they don’t meet Brown’s demands.
Kevin Kane, a public relations manager for Subway, said in an email that although Subway has a zero tolerance for discrimination, the franchise owner makes all employment decisions.
“Both the Subway franchisor and local franchisee have a zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. The franchisee took immediate action to investigate and terminated the employee involved. All Subway restaurants are individually owned and operated and matters involving restaurant employees are handled on the local level.”
The company’s explanation isn’t good enough for Brown, however.
“I’m never going to eat at another Subway again. They don’t deserve my money.”