The Politicus

Create | Share | Influence

NC-Sen: Thom Tillis' (R) Ad Features Restaurant Owner At Center Of A Racial Bias Lawsuit

4 min read


A new TV and digital ad campaign for U.S. Republican Sen. Thom Tillis features one of the owners of Lancaster’s BBQ & Wings in Mooresville, which was sued by the federal government in 2018 over accusations that it “subjected a black employee to a racially hostile work environment.”

In the ad, Tillis talks about the 1 million North Carolinians out of work who are “living paycheck to paycheck.”

The ad shows Tillis sitting at a table with Jeff Lancaster, one of the restaurant’s owners, for several seconds. The two men are talking, although their conversation isn’t audible in the commercial.

The lawsuit was based on a complaint by a former employee of the restaurant, Shana Knox, who is black. Knox said that a former white employee, Chris Bishop, at the restaurant repeatedly called her the “N-word,” telling her that he hated all black people and that he could put “all you N-word in a barrel and burn you.”

Knox also said Bishop – in January 2017 – doused her face and chest with BBQ sauce and hit her with a metal pan.

According to court documents, Bishop was fired but was then rehired by the restaurant four months later. He was fired a second time in April 2018. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, says Lancaster fired Bishop after the EEOC’s preliminary finding of harassment.

Here’s some more info:

Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Ken Bell dismissed some of Knox’s claims against Lancaster’s, but allowed the case to move to a July 20 trial.

In his June 12 order, Bell rejected Knox’s claim for punitive damages and dismissed other claims.

“(T)he Court finds that there is insufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that Bishop’s battery was ratified by Lancaster’s,” Bell wrote. “Bishop was fired immediately after the incident. The record reflects that it was Knox’s version of the events that was accepted by the managers, not Bishop’s. . .

“The Court finds that Knox has failed to present evidence from which a reasonable jury could hold Lancaster’s liable for Bishop’s actions. . . . (T)he managers at Lancaster’s never actively engaged in the discrimination.”

The trial is expected to determine whether the restaurant is liable for compensatory damages to Knox.

Lancaster’s attorney, William Robinson, declined to comment. So did Knox’s lawyer, Josh Van Kampen.

“Affordable health care and medicine shouldn’t be a battle. It’s a right,” Cunningham said in the 30-second ad that will being airing in the Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro markets Thursday.

Cunningham said he favors protecting the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid in North Carolina and creating a public health-insurance option.

Cunningham is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis. Tillis has aired two general election ads. The first focused on his modest economic upbringing; the second was about jobs.

Tillis and Cunningham are in a statistical tie, according to recent polling. North Carolina, considered a toss-up by national outlets that rate races, could play a decisive role in determining which party controls the Senate in 2021.

Republicans currently have 53 of the 100 seats. Among the six seats most likely to flip, five are currently held by Republicans.

Its prominence in the overall Senate fight, as well as the presidential election, means North Carolina’s airwaves will be full of ads from now through the Nov. 3 election.

Outside partisan groups, which have reserved tens of millions of dollars in television time through the fall, have started airing ads as well.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden launched his first general election advertising campaign Thursday. The Biden campaign is advertising on television, on radio, in print and digitally in six battleground states that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, including North Carolina.

Cunningham grew up in Lexington, joined the Army Reserves after the attacks of Sept. 11 and earned a Bronze Star as a military prosecutor against government contractors — all things mentioned in the first half of the ad. It then turns to corruption, one of Cunningham’s top issues.

He released an anti-corruption plan in November before the primary.

“That’s what I’ll do in Washington,” he said in the ad. “Take on the corporate corruption that’s been rigging the system for the big drug and insurance companies.”

Let’s keep this ad running and win big in the Tar Heel State! Click here to donate and get involved with Cunningham’s campaign.

And click below to donate and get involved with Joe Biden and these other North Carolina Democrats campaigns:

Joe Biden for President

Roy Cooper For Governor

Yvonne Lewis Holley for Lt. Governor

Josh Stein for Attorney General

Elaine Marshall for Secretary of State

Deborah Ross for Congress

Kathy Manning for Congress

Moe Davis for Congress

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Politicus is a collaborative political community that facilitates content creation directly on the site. Our goal is to make the political conversation accessible to everyone.

Any donations we receive will go into writer outreach. That could be advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit or person-to-person outreach on College campuses. Please help if you can:

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x