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7 Blacks Accuse Del Taco of Bias


In a rare minority-versus-minority discrimination lawsuit, one current and six former African American employees of Del Taco Inc. are accusing the nation's second-largest Mexican food chain of turning a blind eye to Latino workers repeatedly harassing them because of their race.

The civil suit, filed in Los Angeles on March 13, alleges the Laguna Hills-based company tolerated Latino employees verbally abusing some blacks, passing them over for promotions in favor of Latinos and even firing blacks and replacing them with undocumented Latino workers.

Blacks who complained about their poor treatment lost their jobs, according to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages including lost wages, punitive damages and reinstatement.

Closely held Del Taco, which has 395 restaurants in 10 states, said it had received the lawsuit document but declined to comment.

James Urbanic, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Del Taco wasn't "African American friendly."

"In this day and age, it's shocking to see black employees treated worse than Hispanic ones," he said. "Del Taco ignored [African American] complaints and then retaliated when people came forward."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, keeps no statistics on minority-versus-minority discrimination litigation, although such lawsuits are uncommon, EEOC spokesman David Grinberg said.

However, Grinberg expects them to become more prevalent as a higher percentage of minorities enter the labor force.

Urbanic said the lawsuit paints a picture of Latino mistreatment of blacks at Del Taco and the company's inability or unwillingness to stop it.

Calvin Moore, 21, former work-shift leader who is black, was subjected to repeated verbal taunts by Latino co-workers, the lawsuit alleges.

His Latino colleagues also allegedly told his pregnant girlfriend she was "carrying a monkey's baby," according to the lawsuit.

Moore told area supervisors about his mistreatment, but they took no action against his Latino co-workers, the suit said. After complaining several times, he was fired, the suit said.

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