Two former employees of the Jessup McDonald's have filed a $5.7 million suit against the fast-food corporation, claiming they were falsely accused of embezzlement and forced to resign.
Littell A. Hobbs Jr. of Pasadena and Gerald Duncan of Glen Burnie filed the suit in Howard County Circuit Court.
The suit says both men were summoned in March 1991 to McDonald's regional office in Columbia. There, company officials Mike Hoey, Redden Leggett and Rick Bohdel questioned them for four hours about a $111 shortfall at the restaurant, refusing to let them leave or call an attorney during that time.
Duncan explained the reason for the shortfall, and all but $11 was accounted for within a day, said the Feb.27 suit, which also charges false imprisonment and abusive discharge.
Company officials also accused Hobbs of making discriminatory remarks, but refused to give him details about the remarks or to whom they allegedly were made, the suit said.
Both Anne Arundel County men denied any wrongdoing. They were suspended pending an investigation, and about a week later were given the choice to resign or be fired.
Hobbs declined to discuss the suit and Duncan could not be reached to comment.
McDonald's officials were unavailable for comment.
The suit said Duncan was forced out because of the $111 shortfall,and Hobbs resigned after officials accused him with failing to document register shortages. Both men claim they resigned under duress, and Hobbs said in the suit that there was no evidence that McDonald's investigated the shortfall or the charge of discriminatory remarks.
Hobbs, 32, a 16-year employee of McDonald's and the restaurant's manager, had earned awards for best employee relations and lowest employee turnover in the Baltimore region, the suit said.
Duncan, 50, the assistant manager, was a four-year employee of the company and had received high job-performance ratings.
Hobbs and Duncan claim thatMcDonald's violated its company policy, which states that an employee performing below expectations will be given a chance to improve or will be suspended pending a review of the alleged offenses.
In thesuit, Hobbs claims that his problems with the company began when JimLewandowski became Baltimore region operations manager in May 1990. Hobbs, who reported to Lewandowski, said he resisted his supervisor'sefforts to fire older McDonald's employees. In an incident just before Hobbs was forced out, the suit said, Lewandowski told Hobbs not toallow old people to work in areas visible to customers.
Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is Mary Rhodes, an employee at the Jessup McDonald's. Hobbs and Duncan claim that Rhodes told co-workers and McDonald's customers that the two men were fired for embezzling from the company.