Attorneys for a former Gwinnett County, Georgia, restaurant employee said their client was fired after a video posted on Facebook appeared to show the owner assaulting her after a customer complained about an incorrect order.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Ju’Nea Turner said she suffered bruises on her breast during the alleged assault. which was captured by a customer’s cellphone.
Turner and her attorneys, Muwali Davis and Kayla Bumpus, have now filed a warrant application, allowing her to seek assault and battery charges against the owner, listed on the restaurant’s website as Mr. Lee.
A hearing is scheduled for June 13.
The viral video, which has been online since the incident occurred on Friday, shows the former Doo’s Seafood and Deli employee yelling at Lee after he accused her of incorrectly filling an order. The owner said the customer’s refund would be taken out of her paycheck, Turner’s attorneys allege. The customer claimed in the video that Lee’s wife placed the incorrect order.
“I was just trying to make sure I wasn’t financially punished for someone else’s mistakes,” Turner said at the news conference.
WARNING: Video contains explicit language
Seconds into the cellphone video, the owner appears to knock food out of Turner’s hand and shove her in front of the complaining customer, the employees and the other customers inside the Snellville business.
The cellphone camera was not pointed at the employee or the owner when the physical contact occurred.
Surveillance footage from a different angle shows that the owner grabbed the food tray from Turner and then pushed against her left shoulder.
“What happened to her was something that no one should have to endure, particularly a woman and a mother who just came to work, and that was her only intent,” Davis said at the news conference.
Turner said she refrained from retaliating since she has a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old to feed.
“It’s unfortunate on the day of the incident that the offender was not arrested immediately,” Davis said. “And I’m certain that, if the roles were reversed, that she would have been taken out in handcuffs. For us, this is a matter of both class and race.”
Gwinnett County police responded to the scene but said the “parties involved in the dispute did not wish to pursue the case further,” Cpl. Wilbert Rundles told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rumbles said Lee did not suffer any injuries during the assault.
“The officers explained to each party how to request a warrant hearing from a judge, which is a common resolution and procedure in this type of case, if they changed their minds on the case,” Rumbles said. “Both parties were accepting of the officers’ handling of the call and the call was closed.”
Davis said this was the first physical incident between his client and Lee, but said Turner has witnessed Lee assaulting other employees. Davis has encouraged other witnesses to come forward concerning Friday’s incident and any other alleged assaults.
“We believe that this is a pattern and our intention is to stop that pattern,” he said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tried to contact Lee for comment Wednesday afternoon, but was unsuccessful.