Former Shipley Do-Nuts employee's accuse restaurant of discrimination, sexual harassment

HOUSTON – A beloved pastry shop is facing harsh allegations from a couple of former employees who claim the business is guilty of wrongful termination, discrimination and sexual harassment. 

"I knew I was stuck. I couldn't do anything. So I just kept it to myself, and I would go home and tell my husband what he would do to me," former Shipley Do-Nuts employee Esmeralda Sanchez said.

Sanchez says it's been her daily nightmare for 14 years.

"He would get up and touch me or run his hands through my body or run his hands through my hips and hug me really tight," Sanchez said.

Allegations of sexual harassment and racial discrimination are circling Shipley Do-Nuts.

"We were always the lower class people, but yet we were the ones running the company," Sanchez said.

And on Wednesday, a federal lawsuit citing overtime pay violations was filed in U.S. District Court.

"I would bring it up to the person that did payroll, 'Hey look at the time we're leaving. I hope we're going to get paid for this.' And they would just laugh at me. They thought it was funny," Sanchez said.

Houston attorney Matias Androgue says the claims come on the heels of several long-term employees being fired from the company back in December.

Now he's filed the lawsuit seeking reimbursement for unpaid overtime. Four former employees are named in the lawsuit. All four worked at the Shipley Do-Nut's corporate headquarters, either in the main office or in the warehouse.

They are all family members, and some were employed for more than 20 years.

Androgue said they have also filed discrimination charges against the company with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"We have a lot of rights, and people should understand, 'I have a right, I want to make sure my right is enforced,'" Androgue said.

Androgue says they are hoping to get class-action certification for the overtime lawsuit. He says there are more employees whose rights have been violated.

"He never thought it was important because we were Hispanic. That's the truth," Sanchez said.

Shipley Do-Nuts has released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

"The claims by the former employees named in the lawsuit are unfounded, completely without merit and no more than a retaliation lawsuit against Shipley Do-Nuts and Lawrence Shipley III for their recent termination.  We are challenging these allegations and look forward to all of these claims being resolved by the Court in our favor."​​