HOUSTON, Texas – The most recent lawsuit brought by three former employees against Shipley’s Do-Nuts and owner Lawrence Shipley III is just the beginning of a long line of legal trouble taken against the popular doughnut maker.
It’s the sticky goodness of a Shipley’s doughnut that’s enough to make any Texan's mouth water, but over in the white metal building at 5200 North Main in Houston—the company’s main office—maybe things aren’t as sweet as they seem.
“I do know that he has had other lawsuits brought against him for similar types of claims," attorney Karla Epperson said.
Going back to 2006, a federal lawsuit filed by several current and former employees at the production facility said they worked 40-60 hours a week in a hot, non-air-conditioned kitchen with minimal breaks and no vacations. The lawsuit also stated they were “forced to endure inhumane and egregious conduct at the hands of supervisors.” They had to pay supervisors for permission to see a doctor or request vacation later denied.
That case was settled on a confidential basis.
Also in 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought a civil suit against the doughnut company for firing an employee who had filed a complaint with the EEOC for being “extorted, threatened with violence” and racially discriminated against.
That case was also later settled.
Then, a 2009 lawsuit by a former employee, says he was injured on the job after he slipped and fell from a ramp while unloading what he called an overloaded pallet, adding that Shipley failed to provide safe working conditions.
That case was dismissed on an agreement of parties.
These accusations mirror those seen in this most recent lawsuit by three former employees, who call working at Shipley’s Do-Nuts "a hostile work environment." They said in the lawsuit that on an ongoing basis the three Hispanic women were subjected to unwelcome touching, staring and name calling by Shipley and another employee.
“They were afraid to say anything, of course. But these comments happen throughout their employment, as well as touching. It was a routine occurrence unfortunately," Epperson said.
Attorneys representing Lawrence Shipley released the following statement in response to the most recent lawsuit:
The company’s management has done nothing improper or illegal. We are disputing all allegations, and expect them to ultimately be dismissed in court.