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Wednesday January 17th 2018



Sonic Tennessee franchisee sued for sexual harassment and retaliation

A sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit was filed on July 23, 2013 against Stanfill, Inc., a company based in Jackson, Tennessee that owns and operates 19 Sonic Restaurant Franchises in Tennessee and Missouri.

Stanfill, Inc. (d/b/a Stanfill Sonics) co-owners Jerry Stanfill and Beverly Stanfill and operations manager Kenny Reed are also named as defendants in the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Judy Payton, a former administrative assistant at Stanfill, Inc., claims that she was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by Reed.

Payton, who began working for Stanfill, Inc. in 1997, alleges that Reed began sexually harassing her in the fall of 2011 by making “verbally threatening and abusive comments, insults, physical abuse, intimidation, sexual slurs, derogatory names, and unwelcome suggestive comments”

For example, according to the complaint, “The sexual harassment included an incident occurring in April of 2012, in which Defendant Reed told the Plaintiff that “I want to stick a Hall’s cough drop up your pussy and suck it out,” to which Plaintiff expressed her opposition, distaste, and disgust. Defendant Beverly Stanfill was not regularly in her office during part of 2012 and when Plaintiff brought up the issue of sexual harassment with Defendant Jerry Stanfill, Mr. Stanfill would remark something to the effect that how do you know it is unwanted until you try it.”

Sonic sexual harassment lawsuit

Reed also allegedly put his arm around Payton on multiple occasions while making sexual comments to her, and Payton claims that she “told Defendant Reed to stop making the contact and sexual commentary, to which she repeatedly expressed her opposition, distaste, and displeasure.”

In another incident mentioned in the complaint, Reed allegedly showed Payton “a picture of a co-worker’s vagina that was on his cell phone around July of 2012 in the presence of Defendant Jerry Stanfill and other male management members.”

Payton alleges that she reported the incident with the cell phone photo to Beverly Stanfill, who allegedly said she was aware of the incident and had personally seen the photo of the co-worker’s vagina on Reed’s cell phone, but Beverly Stanfill allegedly told Payton that there was nothing she could do about it.

Payton alleges that her complaints to Jerry and Beverly Stanfill were ignored and that “no corrective or preventative actions were ever taken against Defendant Reed.”

Instead, Beverly Stanfill allegedly told Payton “that she did not have time to investigate sexual harassment complaints.” Beverly Stanfill also allegedly responded to one of Payton’s sexual harassment complaints by telling her “when you are a single female, it is not all that bad because such males are just trying to show affection.”

Payton claims that she was scolded and eventually terminated on November 5, 2012 in retaliation for reporting and complaining about Reed’s sexual harassment.

[Image: Bob B. Brown]

Sonic Tennessee franchisee sued for sexual harassment and retaliation
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