PLANTATION, FLA. (WSVN) - Though a restaurant manager has apologized for giving an employee what he said is an achievement award, the employee remains upset that he was stereotyped.
The manager at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Plantation said the offensive award was only a joke, but that employee said he hopes his story will eliminate stereotypes in the workplace.
“Really, like saying to myself, ‘Is this really how you think of me?'” said Carrabba’s employee Ben James who received the “award.”
James said his boss, Danny Sumaru, presented him with the holiday superlative that he found offensive. “Carrabba’s of Plantation recognition award,” he read. “‘Most Likely To Get Arrested By Just The Way He Looks — Ben James.'”
James started as a prep cook at the restaurant in January and has worked his way up within the kitchen over the past year. He said that there was even talk of a promotion, a couple of months ago.
According to the employee, Sumaru said that he was getting something special at the holiday party after his shift.
“I didn’t really want to go, but he told me he had an award for me,” James said. “So, OK, might as well just stay and stick around, just to get the award and then go home. I’ve been going to work on time, doing everything I need to do, so I figured I’m gonna get a special award for the holidays at least, maybe with a bonus.”
He was given the award in front of all his co-workers. “Self-conscious, like it made me feel like I wouldn’t achieve nothing,” James said. “Just ’cause everybody’s gonna look at me this way.”
After James received the award, he said that he complained to corporate. Sumaru then apologized during a sit-down with the regional manager when James returned to work on Thursday, but he said that is not enough.
“I would like to see him terminated,” James told 7News. “What did I do to him or the company for him to look at me in this way?”
Now, James said he is looking for another job, but with Christmas just a few days away, he doesn’t have many options. “I don’t want to go back, but I got no choice, ’cause that’s my only source of income right now.”
A representative from the company released a statement that read in part, “This was done in poor taste and does not reflect our company’s values or culture. When we conclude our investigation, we will take the appropriate actions based on the outcome.”
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