The franchise organization was reportedly unaware of the firing and assured that he would be reinstated on the schedule.
A North Carolina man with Down syndrome was fired from his job at a Wendy's location after 20 years of employment. As per TODAY, Dennis Peek worked at the Stanley, North Carolina branch of the fast food chain giant. His sister Cona Turner, shared the news of his dismissal with a Facebook post on Wednesday, October 5. "My brother Dennis has worked at Wendy's in Stanley for over 20 years and I am heartbroken to say they have fired him!!!!!!!!" she wrote. "His dream was to retire from there someday and he was looking forward to a huge retirement party, we may just give him that party and tell him he has retired because he does not understand being fired!!!!!!!!"
Turner further wrote, "They told me he was unable to perform the duties of a normal person's job!!!! I am also looking into wrongful termination of special needs employees, wish me luck! I am very disappointed with the management at Wendy's in Stanley, they have no idea how they hurt my brother!" Carolina Restaurant Group, the franchise organization that operates the Stanley location of Wendy's, shared a statement about Peek's termination via email with TODAY. "We are committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for our employees and customers," the statement read. "This was a very unfortunate mistake and lapse in protocol."
After the initial message, Turner posted an update, saying that her brother was offered the job back and was asked to start the following week. She wrote, "My heart is overwhelmed by support that you all have given my brother and myself! Thank you all so much!!" According to WSOC TV, 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.
Cona shared two more subsequent updates, with the last one announcing that her brother did not plan on returning to Wendy's. "He will have his BIG RETIREMENT party that he has been wanting," Turner explained. "Wendy's has offered to help with expenses and anything else they can for his special day." She added, "I feel in my heart at this point I should do what is best for my brother. I will have more details Monday or Tuesday. Thank you all again for all your love and support for my brother!"
His sister's initiative garnered the attention of the local community and the nation, with the corporate becoming aware of the situation and calling her on Thursday, October 6. Turner informed netizens that the franchise organization was unaware of her brother's firing and assured that he would be reinstated on the schedule.
"To me, that was giving normalcy back to Dennis,” she said. “Now is it fair? No, it’s not fair at all. Should there be consequences? Absolutely. You can’t treat somebody like that.” Carolina Restaurant Group told TODAY via email: "...We value Dennis, have been in touch with his family, and we are looking forward to either welcoming him back to work in the restaurant or to celebrating him in a big way should he choose to retire." The company added, "Should Dennis retire and ever want to work again, we’ll also be happy to welcome him back.”
Cover Photo Credits: Facebook/Cona Young Turner