A former employee of a restaurant in Georgia just won a settlement due to racial discrimination.

Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, a Delaware-founded restaurant chain, opened one of its two Georgia locations in December 2020, according to Atlanta Black Star. Jerrell McGirt started working as a line cook at their Buckhead location a month before its grand opening. In just a few months he was promoted to sous chef-in-training. Once he began the training for his new role, he became disgruntled by the way he and other minorities were being poorly treated by the trainers on staff.

According to the case’s documents, McGirt contacted the eatery’s regional management on June 3, 2021, to notify them about the mishandling of employees. McGirt never heard back so he decided to inform the restaurant’s leadership team, which included the general manager, the interim executive chef and his acting supervisor on June 8. Nothing was done after they were told, so he sent two more complaints to regional management on June 12 and June 28. His complaints were ignored again.

The lawsuit stated that the restaurant’s management team singled out the plaintiff instead of investigating the situation. On July 2, 2021, McGirt was sent home early for telling his director to “treat him like a human being.” That same day, McGirt emailed Iron Hill management to report the “verbal abuse, verbal assault, discrimination and mistreatment because of gender; and discrimination and mistreatment because [of] both race and citizenship.” Despite never having a write-up, McGirt was instructed not to return to the location because they needed to assess his “previous write-ups.”

Three days later, McGirt received a response and was asked to share evidence of accusations. He sent proof the next day and was issued a “final written warning” for being “aggressive” for requesting fair treatment. On June 11, he was involved in another degrading situation when his sous-chef told him to “tone it down” and to “stop being a coon.” Not wanting to lose his job but still wanting to be treated with respect, he texted the trainer.

“I’m not going to do anything fireable, and I won’t be intimidated to quit…I’m no coon no thug to be taken advantage of,” McGirt’s message read, which led to his termination.

To hold the restaurant’s discriminatory leaders and staff accountable for their actions and lack thereof, McGirt disclosed his grievances with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to formally report what he encountered while at Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant. After a thorough investigation, the government entity ultimately concluded that there was “reasonable cause to believe that Title VII had been violated.” Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act addresses employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

To avoid litigation, the EEOC contacted the restaurant in September 2023 in hopes of finding a solution for this matter. Since there was no movement, the organization sent a “Notice of Failure of Conciliation” two months later, the final step in their process for resolution before filing a legal claim, which was done on March 25, 2024.

On June 17, 2024, McGirt came out on top when a judge ruled the food chain would be required to pay him a $115,000 settlement. In addition, they were ordered to enforce an anti-retaliation policy and host a yearly national course on complying with Title VII discriminatory laws. Furthermore, the company must give McGirt a letter of recommendation that states he “performed well in his position” and “was a good employee.”

Before this ruling, the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant’s Atlanta location shut down in May 2024. The franchise said a lack of customers and “post-pandemic challenges” is the reason they closed their doors, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.