A Black woman has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit after she says she was repeatedly called the N-word while working at the Flying Fish Bar & Grill in Savannah, Georgia.
Rashonda Walden filed the lawsuit on July 18, according to court documents obtained by Atlanta Black Star.
According to the lawsuit, 43-year-old Walden alleges that she was called the N-word on a near daily basis by two white female employees at the Wilmington Island seafood establishment owned by Robin and Michael McMahon after being hired on April 14.
Walden contends that while she worked at the restaurant as a food runner, she was repeatedly called the N-word by a 17-year-old server named McKenzie, as well as by Jennifer, the general manager and McKenzie’s aunt. The duo also called Walden “girl” on multiple occasions.
“McKenzie LNU hurled racial slurs at Ms. Walden on virtually every shift they worked together, frequently referring to Ms. Walden as a ‘n*****’ and belittling her with comments like ‘You need to do this, n*****,’ ‘You don’t know what you are doing,’ and ‘You need to do this, little girl,’” her complaint says.
Walden was the only Black woman employed at the restaurant and one of five Black people at the establishment.
On April 21, Walden claims that the general manager yelled at her, “You n*****… you need to listen!” after she asked some servers to help her run food to a large party. On April 29, McKenzie reportedly called Walden the N-word again, and Walden complained to the owner, Michael McMahon. She also asked to be excused for the rest of the day after requesting that the owner do something about the hostile working conditions.
The 43-year-old also claimed that she was subjected to racist treatment in front of customers that was overheard by McMahon. She also noted that the other Black employees were called the N-word by McKenzie, who said, “I don’t care about y’all n******.” After Walden complained to another manager who was Black, she was warned not to complain.
“We’re Black, and I don’t want you to lose your job … we’re in the South,” the manager said, according to the complaint.
On April 30, McMahon called Walden to fire her, saying that things were “not working out” with her employment at the restaurant.
“The facts here feel like 1963, not 2023. This kind of blatant and unrepentant racism is as cruel as it is illegal,” said Artur Davis in an emailed statement. “When Rashonda Walden stood up for herself, Michael McMahon not only ignored her. He fired her. Cases don’t normally get filed this quickly in federal court, but Ms. Walden deserved to be heard now.”
Walden is asking the court to award her back pay, front pay, and lost benefits in the lawsuit. She is also asking for compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, and a permanent injunction enjoining the defendant and its employees from maintaining a hostile work environment.
Walden is also asking for “such other equitable and monetary relief as the court deems just and proper” and a “declaratory judgment that Defendant’s actions violated Ms.Walden’s rights to be free from discrimination and retaliation based on her race and in violation.”