Before I make the post, Domino’s Pizza has issued a statement on the page where the video below appears and it reads
Domino’s does not tolerate discrimination against customers. This store was owned and operated by an independent franchisee and that franchisee exited our system in 2013.
Michael P. Jarvis of Winter Haven is named in the Circuit Court suit along with his company, Michael J’s Pizzaria, Inc., which owned the Domino’s Pizza where the incident occurred. Jarvis has said he sold the store about two years ago and he was unaware of the lawsuit. He declined to comment further. Here’s the video
Here’s the story
Hakima Benaddi said she had picked up pizza at a Domino’s store in Davenport dozens of times since she moved to the neighborhood in 2011.
The only difference from her routine July 27, 2012, Benaddi said, was that she was wearing a Muslim head scarf.
A lawsuit filed in her behalf contends she was discriminated against by employees, including an accusation by one that she threatened to blow up the building.
The charges were later dropped, but Benaddi said Thursday that her life was turned upside down because of the false accusations.
She’s suing the former owner of the Davenport pizzeria and his company. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Circuit Court on behalf of Benaddi by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida.
Benaddi said she’s still shaken over being handcuffed and put into jail.
“I never imagined I’d be in that situation,” Benaddi said, standing next to her lawyer, Thania Diaz Clevenger, civil rights director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Florida, at a news conference outside the Polk County Courthouse. “I know they discriminated against me.
A Domino’s Pizza spokesman at corporate headquarters in Detroit said the corporation didn’t own the store and wasn’t named in the lawsuit.
“The employees were his (the franchisee), and he is no longer with our system,” said spokesman Tim McIntyre.
Benaddi moved to the United States in 2009 from Morocco.
She was arrested by Polk County sheriff’s deputies on charges of making a bomb threat after the July 27, 2012, incident at Domino’s Pizza, 45717 U.S. 27 N.
The charges were dropped in August 2012 because of “conflicting witness statements,” according to the lawsuit. Her arrest record was ordered expunged on Sept. 13, 2013, by a circuit judge, the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit, which is seeking damages, Benaddi’s civil rights were violated and she was wrongly arrested because of false statements made by the store’s assistant manager, Whitney Green.
Green was the only employee who told investigators she heard a bomb threat. “The woman came into the store screaming about her pizza,” Green told deputies, according to an arrest report. “When I went to find out what was wrong, she started yelling, ‘It’s because you’re American, and I’m Muslim. I’m gonna come back with a bomb. I’ll blow you all up.’?”
The argument started over a vegetarian pizza Benaddi ordered. Benaddi said it was her first time wearing a hijab, the Muslim head scarf, at the Domino’s. She bought the pizza and, when she got home, found it was missing toppings, some crust and cheese. She called the store to complain and returned with the pizza.
The suit said when Benaddi asked for a refund, she was told by Green and two other employees that there was nothing wrong with the pizza. Following a verbal confrontation with Green, Benaddi said, “You can keep your pizza” and left the store, the suit says.
Green called deputies about the bomb threat after Benaddi left about 6 p.m. Sheriff’s Deputy William Tull investigated the complaint, placed the pizza box into evidence then questioned Benaddi. She was arrested about midnight, according to the lawsuit.
Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilder said he couldn’t discuss the case because the criminal records had been expunged.
This kind of racism is illegal and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I congratulate Ms. Bennadi for doing just that and hope she prevails. Lying because of poor service rendered to a paying customer is unacceptable.