Woman to file lawsuit against Roanoke Golden Corral, claims racial discrimination

Lawsuit stems from Aug. 27 incident

By Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager , Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - A woman who recorded video and posted to Facebook about her experience at the Golden Corral in Roanoke now plans to file a lawsuit in federal court against the restaurant.

Nexus Services, Inc. is funding the lawsuit by Leah Williams, the woman who posted the video of last month's incident.

Platinum Corral, a franchisee of Golden Corral, provided this statement to WSLS 10, “As a corporate policy, we do not provide comment on litigation, threatened or otherwise.”

The lawsuit is being funded as part of the company’s “Access to Justice” project, according to Nexus.

“Platinum Corral, the Golden Corral franchise owner, has a responsibility to lead in this instance. While they’ve had several weeks to investigate this horrific example of racial bias in public accommodations, their social media apologies ring hollow in the face of their continued employment of racists who have demonstrated their frank willingness to use their positions to discriminate against African-Americans in the community. Platinum Corral and their employees must be held accountable for violating federal anti-discrimination laws,” said Nexus president and CEO Mike Donovan.

Williams, Donovan and others will be holding a news conference at 1 p.m. on Wednesday across the street from the restaurant to publicly announce the lawsuit.

The news Tuesday came about a month after a social media post of her story went viral. The attorneys said restaurant employees falsely accused the family of stealing chicken wings, were overtly racist and banned the family without justifiable cause.

The attorneys said in a press release, “Leah Williams and family suffered horrific racism at the hands of management and staff… the Williams family were jeered at, treated as common criminals.”

Golden Corral issued an apology after the August incident, and offered to speak with Williams, adding that the company is addressing the incident internally.

Williams made claims on social media saying she was “disgusted” by the Aug. 27 incident. She included videos and pictures (included in the video above) from her exchanges with employees. The post quickly received thousands of views and shares.

She said she went there to celebrate with her daughter, who was turning 10, and her mother. She said the manager accused them of stealing food and asked to see her mother’s purse to check for stolen chicken, which her family refused.

The police came, but didn't arrest anyone. The family did not allow anyone to look inside the purse.

A company speaking for the restaurant would not confirm if surveillance video exists but said it’s company policy not to release surveillance video. The company declined to comment further Tuesday.

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