ROANOKE, Va. – WSLS spoke with former Golden Corral waitress Lisa Lipscomb after a local woman filed a lawsuit against her, her manager and the restaurant.
Leah Williams said she and her family were mistreated at the restaurant last month when they were wrongfully accused of stealing food during a birthday dinner party for her daughter. According to lawsuit documents, Williams and her family suffered public humiliation and other damages as a result of the late August incident. Williams also said her family endured racism from a manager and Lipscomb at the Golden Corral. Both employees are named in the federal lawsuit in Roanoke City District Court. Williams posted a video last month showing the manager asking to see a purse after they were accused of stealing chicken from the buffet. Williams didn't say much about the specific incident at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, only that she's standing up for what is right.
"I stand here brazen and bold and will not back down to what lies ahead of me. I'm doing this to teach a lesson for all children to let them know, you stand up for what you believe is right when others stand against you," Williams said.
Meanwhile, Golden Corral fired Lipscomb, who was captured in the cell phone video. Lipscomb said since that day one month ago she's not only lost her job, but also had to deal with a barrage of online criticism.
To this day, Lipscomb is maintaining that she is not a racist and was just doing her job. This is the first time she has been able to speak out now that she is no longer an employee. Although she's angry at Williams for suing her, she said she's furious at Golden Corral for not standing by their employee of 20 years.
"They apologized to her, and that was a slap in my face," Lipscomb said.
It's an incident Lipscomb has relived every day for the past month -- a family she thinks she caught stealing.
"All the chicken that was on the table was gone, and I looked under the table when I heard that bag, and that's where the chicken was going, in her pocket book," Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb said she reported the incident to her manager because that's what she said the wait staff is instructed to do.
"If we catch them stealing without a ticket, eating without a ticket, then that means that we get the amount of that dinner," Lipscomb said.
That manager, who is also named in the lawsuit, asked to search Williams' purse. In the video, that exchange went as follows:
Williams: "You cannot search my purse because you do not have a warrant for that"
Manager: "I can just check the video"
Williams: "I don't care what you do"
Manager: "And I can call the police"
Williams: "Call the police"
"If you wasn't guilty of something, why didn't you just open your purse and show everybody that it wasn't in there, and this wouldn't have ever happened," Lipscomb said.
At Wednesday's press conference, Williams' attorneys said Lipscomb was not "just doing her job", it was racism at work.
"I don't have to hear anyone say that it was race, because the Supreme Court told me I don't have to hear that. All I need is circumstantial evidence and we have a whole lot of that that points towards race," attorney Mario Williams said.
Mario Williams said, in a restaurant full of white people, Lipscomb focused on the only black family.
"Racism had nothing to do with this, nothing at all. She was stealing, and I caught her," Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb said following the incident, she's been receiving death threats online.
"I'm scared to death to go outside. My co-workers, they, they're scared because a couple of them look like me and people has been hollering racial stuff at them and it's not even me," Lipscomb said.
She said it has lost her some of her best friends.
"My coworkers that I've been working with for years has been told not to have nothing to do with me. Are you kidding me? They were my family, that was my family, they were my family," Lipscomb said.
Williams alleges in the lawsuit Lipscomb threatened her in a Facebook message. That's something Lipscomb herself confirmed to WSLS, and now a judge has issued Williams an emergency protective order against the former waitress. Lipscomb says she is now in the process of filing a report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Platinum Corral, the parent company of the Roanoke Golden Corral.