California woman sues Subway after she finds ‘Big Mama’ written on her flatbread pizza order
Allison Brown said she was mortified when she pulled her order out of her bag and saw the words ‘Big Mama’ scrawled on her box in black marker. Brown and her lawyer, Daniel Gilleon, plan to sue for sensitivity training to be part of Subway’s franchise agreements.
By Nancy Dillon
A California woman says a Subway restaurant worker was a flat-out bully when he wrote a tasteless fat jab on her flatbread pizza order, reducing her to tears.
She now plans to file a lawsuit demanding that sensitivity training be a part of the chain’s franchise agreements, she and her lawyer told the Daily News Friday.
Allison Brown said she was mortified when she pulled her order out of her bag on March 27 and saw the words “Big Mama” scrawled on her box in black marker.
“I just broke down crying. I couldn’t eat it. I kept thinking, ‘Big Mama’ doesn’t need to eat. It started really messing with me. I started thinking, ‘Maybe I need surgery. Do I really look that bad? What’s wrong with me?’”
Brown, a 45-year-old nursing assistant from Murrieta, Calif., said she immediately contacted the shop’s owner and was told the employee admitted writing the cruel remark, but countered that he only wrote it on one of her boxes, not all the items in her family’s order.
“The owner said the employee didn’t know better, that he just didn’t get it,” Brown told The News. “He begged me not to go to the media, so I tried to work with him, but then nobody was calling me back. It’s not right. This really hurt me.”
Brown said she called Subway’s corporate office the next day and cried through a message that was never returned. She felt the issue was getting swept under the mat, she said.
Eventually she had a lawyer send a letter demanding sensitivity training, not money. She turned down an offer of $5,000 for a confidentiality agreement and now plans to file a lawsuit under California’s unfair business practices law, her lawyer Daniel Gilleon told The News.
“This isn’t about money,” she said Friday. “This breaks my heart. Here Subway promotes itself as a place for people who need help eating better, then this happens. What if the wrong person got a box like mine? What if they saw that and tried to commit suicide?”
Gilleon said a letter sent by Subway’s corporate office this week refused to take any responsibility for the issue. He now plans to file the lawsuit in the next few weeks, he said.
“We’re going to do it for sure, unless they comply with our demand,” Gileon said, explaining that he took Brown’s case pro bono.
“They need to make sure all employees take training. And it’s something they should have done already. It should be in their franchise agreements,” he said. “If they can dictate how thinly the onions on the sandwiches are sliced, they can and should do this.”
In a statement to local ABC station 10News, restaurant owner Sanjiv Mehta said he tried to do what was right.
“As a small business owner, I do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. When I learned of this incident I immediately investigated and disciplined the employee involved. I also made contact with the customer in an effort to resolve this matter,” he told the station.
“Both the Subway franchisor and local franchisee have a zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. The franchisee took immediate action to investigate and terminated the employee involved,” Kevin Kane, a public relations manager for Subway, said in an email to The News. “All Subway restaurants are individually owned and operated and matters involving restaurant employees are handled on the local level.”
“I’m never going to eat at another Subway again,” Brown vowed Friday. “They don’t deserve my money.”