Ex-employees of the Subway store on South Monroe claim that they were fired because of, among other things, skin color.
Janay Faison, who has been an employee of Subway since she was 16-years-old, transferred to the store once she moved to Tallahassee for college.
“I was working for this Subway for two years before they switched owners. When the new owner came in, he fired a majority of the people working there,” said Faison, a Tallahassee Community College student from Miami.
“He fired me because I wouldn’t get down on the floor and scrub the floors and ceilings as his wife instructed,” Fasion said.
“When I asked him why I was being let go, he said that it was his store and that he could do what he wanted,” she said.
Faison said the owner told her that because her performance was not up to par, she had to be let go.
“I really didn’t know what to say. He told me to either ‘stay or clock-out,’ so I left,” she added.
But this isn’t the first demonstration against the South Monroe store.
Earlier in the month, there was a smaller protest that had about three attendees, including Faison, according to the store’s owner Dave Patel.
He said that during that time, he offered to speak with Faison privately about her grievances, but she refused.
Patel, an Indian-American who goes by his American first name, has been running the store for about one month.
Although, Patel couldn’t make an official statement due to corporate protocol, he did share what has happened since he took control of the store.
According to Patel, all of the black ex-employees who claimed that they were discriminated against all quit because of his managing style.
He said that before he arrived, employees were used to doing “whatever they wanted” and that the store operated their way.
That changed when once he became the owner and soon after, two white employees, including a shift manager were the first to leave their jobs.
He added that he thought taking over the store would have been an easy feat, since he is familiar with working with black Americans.
Even more so, since “African-, and Indian-American cultures are similar,” Patel added.
Patel said that it wouldn’t be in his interest, or that of the Subway Stores, to discriminate against black employees in an establishment where “60 percent of the patrons are black.”
Rona Jacobs, a health science student who was on-duty at the store, said she thinks the protests are unfounded.
“I’m not sure why they’re protesting. There are accusations of him being racist and he’s not. You can clearly see that he has black staff,” said Jacobs, a 24-year-old from Miami.
Patel invited The Famuan into the store to see the work schedule for the week, complete with an all black staff.
Leon County Commissioner William “Bill Proctor” was present to “weigh-in” on the protest in his district.
“I join the workers who said they don’t like his managing style,” said Proctor.
“I’m not here about a race issue, it’s more about the rights of and respect for workers,” said Proctor who added that he eats at the South Monroe store “all of the time.”
“This guy has come from India to the southside of Tallahassee, and American girls who have been working here all of sudden are good enough to be employees,” Proctor said.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to scrub a floor or ceiling and then make a sandwich for a customer,” Proctor added.
Patel showed The Famuan his call-log displaying his attempts to reach Proctor throughout the week.
Dehkenesh Dobbins, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Miami and frequent customer of the store joined Thursday’s protest.
“As a customer, I felt it was racial discrimination to fire mainly the black employees.”
“I eat at Subway almost everyday, and I would see her [Faison] working almost daily for the past couple of years,” Dobbins said of her encounters with Faison at the store.
She added that before the protests she didn’t know Faison, but they have since become good friends.
“She has excellent people skills, especially with customers. There was no reason to fire her,” said Dobbins.
Natasha Rivera, a 20-year-old from Orlando said she was also given the short-end-of-the-stick by Patel. Not only was she fired, but she said that Patel refused to pay her for the hours she’d worked.
“Basically, the hours on my check didn’t reflect the hours I had worked,” she said.
“I worked overtime, when he fired all the other employees. He called demanding that I come in on my only day off.”