GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A North Carolina family wants answers after their loved one was fired from a job he had been doing for over 20 years.
Dennis Peek has Down syndrome and was planning to retire soon from Wendy’s. But his family said Wendy’s fired him because “he wasn’t able to do his job like a normal person,” according to WSOC-TV.
His family is now advocating for him after they found out he was fired without receiving a notice.
“I’m out here because I need to be his voice for the way he was treated,” his sister, Cona Turner, told the station.
Turner told WSOC that she didn’t know what to do after finding out Wednesday that her younger brother was fired from his position at Wendy’s after almost 22 years.
“I asked why and I was told he could not perform his duties,” she said.
It was a heartbreaking discovery that she didn’t want her kind-hearted brother to face.
“He don’t understand, and we can’t tell him he was terminated. We have not told him, and we won’t tell him,” Turner said.
After Turner posted her frustrations to Facebook, the word spread fast. On Thursday morning, she received a call from Carolina Restaurant Group, which owns and operates the Wendy’s, saying Peek could be reinstated next week, according to WSOC.
“We are committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for our employees and our customers. This was an unfortunate mistake and lapse in protocol; we are in touch with the employee’s family, and we are looking forward to welcoming him back to work in the restaurant,” Carolina Restaurant Group said.
WSOC does not know why Peek was fired, but attorney Christopher Hodgson with Disability Rights North Carolina said there are rights in the workplace for those with disabilities.
“It turns into discrimination, especially when somebody’s making generalizations about someone’s disabilities and stereotypes about what they can and can’t do, when it’s no longer based on what they’re doing, but fears around their own limitations,” Hodgson said.
Peek is described as a fun-loving guy who always has a smile on his face. While he is still unaware of the situation around him, he can’t stop talking about the one thing he is looking forward to the most: retirement.
His family is now torn between letting him go back to the job next week or cutting ties with Wendy’s, throwing an early retirement party for him and inviting the community he has come to know and love in the dining room.
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