December 1, 2021

Moe’s in C’ville accused of age, racial bias

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Edward King stands May 17 across the street from Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurant in Cortlandville. King has filed a discrimination claim against the eatery.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating a complaint that a Cortland man was discriminated against by his Cortlandville employer, federal documents show.

Edward King of Cortland told the EEOC he was performing management duties without pay or title for Moe’s Southwest Grill at 872 Route 13.

The EEOC recorded the complaint March 20, responded to King April 3, and followed up May 11 with a statement that it would continue investigation through its enforcement unit rather than mediation after “one of the parties declined or failed to respond to the EEOC’s offer to mediate or an attempt at mediation did not prove successful,” wrote P.J. Parkhurst of the EEOC’s mediation unit in a letter to King.

Roger Wagner, owner of Moe’s Southwest Grill, did not respond to several calls seeking comment since last week.

When King started working for Moe’s Southwest Grill in Cortlandville in October 2017, he was just a regular crew member and after a month on the job assumed more responsibility.

King, a 47-year-old African-American man, went from doing the everyday duties of a typical crew member, like frying food, to being put on the day shift and helping open the restaurant, the duties of a manager, he said. It wasn’t long before King said he was promised a manager position at the store.

“I was doing the duties but not receiving the pay,” he said.

Later the restaurant went on to fill the position of manager with someone else. “I felt treated unfairly,” King said.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could neither confirm or deny that King had filed the discrimination charge, said Joseph Olivares, a spokesman for the commission, but King provided the documents the EEOC sent to him.

Olivares said that once a person files a charge, the commission tries to mediate with both parties.

According to a document from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission King’s charge was no longer considered for mediation after one of the parties involved declined or failed to respond to the mediation offer.

“This charge be transferred to EEOC’s enforcement unit for further investigation,” the EEOC wrote King.