Supervisors told a longtime Cracker Barrel manager that she was being fired for giving store discounts to family and friends, but she says that’s not the real reason.
Belinda Jones claims in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that she is a victim of age discrimination. Jones, who is over 50, said Cracker Barrel replaced her with a 20-something manager for its Old Country Store in Gulfport.
Jones, of Pascagoula, says in her lawsuit that she was fired because her husband was insured through her group insurance policy at Cracker Barrel and the company wanted to be rid of his expensive cancer treatments.
She started work in 1995 at Cracker Barrel as a retail store manager. She managed the company’s Old Country Store in Gulfport from 2002 until February 2016, when she was fired, court records say.
The lawsuit says company policy allowed Jones and other store managers to share their restaurant and store discounts with family and friends. Jones said managers were aware she and others were sharing their discounts, even noting in reports how sales were going before and after the discounts were applied.
She said that she was fired after she took a trip with her district manager to a Cracker Barrel store in Florida. During the trip, the lawsuit says, the manager questioned Jones about her husband’s health and the cost of his radiation treatments.
Within a month, the lawsuit says, Cracker Barrel had launched an investigation into her use of store discounts. Jones said she was fired, while at least two other store managers using the discounts for family and friends were neither terminated nor disciplined.
In its court response, Cracker Barrel denies any wrongdoing. Jones brought up her husband’s cancer and the district manager never inquired about the cost of treatment, the response says.
Cracker Barrel says Jones was investigated and fired over improper use of the employee discount.