Jun 23, 2022 - Business

Woman sues MOD Pizza over discrimination claims

image of a store front of a MOD Pizza restaurant.
Washington-based MOD Pizza has branded itself as an inclusive company. Photo: Getty Images

A former employee of Washington-based MOD Pizza — publicly known for its inclusive hiring practices — alleges in a new lawsuit that she was largely ignored after complaining that her co-workers repeatedly called her a racial slur or used it around her.

Context: Trinity Campbell, who is Black and now lives in Texas, contends in the suit filed in federal court in Seattle on Tuesday that MOD "harmed [her] mental and emotional state" and at one point, "she attempted suicide after" a manager "uttered this racial slur at work."

What she says: Campbell claims she was forced to quit in 2020 from the unspecified MOD location where she worked due to its "toxic" atmosphere and the company's failure to take action.

The other side: A spokesperson for MOD Pizza said Thursday that the company had no comment.

Why it matters: Founded in Seattle in 2008, MOD Pizza has burgeoned into an international chain with more than 500 locations that market "superfast," customizable personal pies and salads.

  • The company won praise as a progressive and inclusive employer, contending it "puts people first" and gives opportunities to individuals facing social barriers.
  • The company's website says it strives to provide opportunities to people who were once incarcerated or who have intellectual or developmental disabilities; to youths who are out of school or unemployed; and to those struggling with addiction or homelessness.

Details: Campbell's suit says she was the only Black employee working at the MOD location in 2020 when a white supervisor first used the racial slur in her presence.

  • During a different instance, another white co-worker allegedly repeated the word four times directly to her face, telling Campbell it was "only derogatory if you use it in an offensive way," per the suit.
  • When Campbell complained, a Latina manager allegedly­­­­­­­ told her she also used the N-word regularly.

Yes, but: Another manager later promised Campbell he would report the incident to corporate human resources.

  • After more than a month passed, Campbell claims nothing happened and she could no longer tolerate the job so she had to quit.
  • By then, she was taking prescription medication and getting clinically treated for major depressive disorder due to the work environment, the suit says.
  • Nearly eight weeks after quitting, Campbell alleges she called MOD's HR and learned the company confirmed her discrimination claims.
  • Despite its findings, MOD didn't reach out or take action against the offending co-workers — other than providing additional workplace training, the suit says.

State of play: Campbell's 15-page complaint alleges as causes of action wrongful termination, a hostile work environment and racial discrimination.

Of note: She seeks lost wages and benefits, attorneys' fees and costs, compensatory damages for mental anguish and emotional distress and punitive damages for discrimination.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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