Fired for throwing knife at a customer, Popeyes manager files lawsuit

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Former Popeyes manager Sherita Harrison admits it probably wasn’t a good idea to throw a knife at a customer.

But she doesn’t think she deserved to lose her job for it.

So the South Sider has filed a $200,000 federal lawsuit against the fried chicken chain, alleging it violated both her Second Amendment rights to arm herself and her civil rights when it fired her for throwing the bread knife at an unruly teen last month.

“I was protecting myself,” Harrison, a 30-year-old mother of four, said this week after she lost her job of more than 10 years at the restaurant at 103rd and Kedzie.

“I don’t think it was fair to fire me.”

Harrison said she grabbed the knife in self-defense after four teenage boys came into the restaurant on the night of Sept. 10 and started throwing signs and cursing at her and her staff. One of the teens had snatched a worker’s iPhone from the counter and refused to return it, and others were spitting, calling her a “b—-” and threatening to jump over the counter and kill her, she said.

“I was overwhelmed,” she said, adding that she was forced to close the restaurant so that she could go to hospital to get six stitches after one of the teens picked up the knife and threw it back at her.

Her lawsuit says that three days later, franchise owner Ed Obiala told her she was a “liability” and canned her.

But Obiala, 62, said he had no choice but to let Harrison go.

“I don’t care what they said to her, you can’t throw knives at customers!,” Obiala said on Monday.

“How many customers do you think I’d have if my managers kept throwing knives at them?”

Harrison, who is acting as her own attorney, said police took the security video footage of the incident. She hasn’t worked in the month since Obiala canned her from the $13.50-an-hour job, she added.

She said she might have reacted differently if she hadn’t been so exhausted from working 50 to 60 hours a week, and that although she asked for $200,000, all she really wants is her hospital bill and worker’s comp paid.

“I just want a little understanding for the stressful situation I was put in,” she said.

“If I could go back and do it over again, I wouldn’t throw the knife.”

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