- A homeless black man named Emory Ellis was arrested after being falsely accused of using a fake $10 bill to pay for breakfast at Burger King.
- Ellis was imprisoned for three months until the Secret Service concluded the $10 bill was real, according to a new lawsuit.
- Ellis is suing Burger King for nearly $1 million, saying that he was discriminated against because of his appearance.
A homeless black man is suing Burger King for nearly $1 million after he was jailed for three months after trying to pay for his meal with a $10 bill that employees thought was fake.
In November 2015, Emory Ellis tried to buy breakfast at a Boston Burger King with a $10 bill, Law360 reported. Employees believed the bill to be fake, and Ellis was arrested and charged with forgery of a bank note.
The arrest triggered a probation violation, according to Ellis’ lawsuit, and he was held in jail without bail for three months, the Associated Press reported. In February 2016, the Secret Service concluded that Ellis’ $10 bill was actually real, leading prosecutors to drop the forgery charge.
In a suit filed earlier this week, Ellis sued Burger King and the franchisee who owns this particular location, saying he was discriminated against based on his appearance as a black homeless person.
“A person like me would’ve gotten an apology, but a person like Emory somehow finds his way in handcuffs for trying to pay for his breakfast with real money,” Ellis’ attorney Justin Drechsler, who is white, told the Associated Press.
“While we cannot comment on the specifics of any ongoing legal matters, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” Burger King said in a statement to Business Insider. “The Franchisee, who independently owns and operates this location, is responsible for handling all legal matters regarding this location and ensuring proper employee training is in place.”
The AP reported that the franchisee, Two Guys Foods Inc., did not respond to a request for comment.
The suit comes at a time when chains’ treatment of customers – especially black customers – is in the spotlight. Since footage of two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks went viral in April, many other stories have emerged of similarly unfair treatment by other companies.