In a town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, a man with Down syndrome was fired from a Wendy’s location after 20 years of employment.
Dennis Peek worked at the Stanley, North Carolina, location of the fast food chain. His sister, Cona Turner, initially shared news of his dismissal from the location on Facebook. She penned a post on Wednesday, Oct. 5 that read in part, “My brother Dennis has worked at Wendy’s in Stanley for over 20 years and I am heart broken to say they have fired him!!!!!!!!”
“His dream was to retire from there some day 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!!!!!!!” she added.
Turner continued the post, writing, “They told me was unable to perform the duties of a normal persons job!!!! I am also looking into a wrongful termination of a special needs employee, 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 posting the initial message, Turner amended the post with an update, adding that her brother was offered his job back and could start the following week. She wrote, “My heart is overwhelmed by the support that you all have given my brother and myself! Thank you all so much!!”
She shared two more subsequent updates, with the third announcing that her brother ultimately did not plan on returning to Wendy’s. Turner explained, “He will be having his BIG RETIREMENT party that he has been wanting.”
“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!”
Speaking with WBTV, a local CBS affiliate in Charlotte, Turner said that a manager from the location let her brother know of his termination on the phone before he was going to be dropped off for his shift by a caretaker. She said the manager fired her brother because he could not perform the necessary extra tasks at the store.
”He’s always excited to go to work,” she said. “He loves seeing people come in and speak to him. He loves to interact with the people.”
After sharing the news on social media and garnering the attention of the local community as well as nationally, she said that corporate became aware of the situation and called her on Thursday, Oct. 6. Turner said that the franchise organization was unaware of her brother’s firing and that he would be reinstated on the schedule.
”To me that was giving a 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.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com