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LA Yoshinoya Manager Allegedly Harassed Cook With Racist Taunts, Threats of Deportation

The Yoshinoya franchise owner settled out of court last week

Yoshinoya on Crenshaw and 29th in South LA
Yoshinoya on Crenshaw and 29th in South LA
Theron B./Yelp
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Yoshinoya settled a lawsuit in Los Angeles last week. In the lawsuit, a cook endured a supervisor allegedly threatening him with deportation, as well as racist and homophobic threats. These violations occurred throughout a three year period at a Yoshinoya franchise in Crenshaw.

L.A. Taco first reported the suit between 3/8-year-old plaintiff Jose Lopez and franchise parent company, Sugi AMH, Inc. Documents from the Los Angeles Superior Court outlined the following treatment for Lopez, who was born in El Salvador:

“During the plaintiffs tenure, he was forced to endure a work environment that was racist and hostile because of actual and/or his race and/or perceived national origin and/or sexual orientation. Plaintif’s supervisor, Theresa Bursonda, mocked Plaintiff’s accent and dialect, continuously made racist comments directed at him, and otherwise made derogatory statements on a regular basis.”

Court records show Bursonda harassed Lopez with statements like, “Latino immigrants should go back to their country,” “Jose is a faggot,” and “You are stupid because you don’t know English,” from his start date in 2014, until he was fired in 2017.

The records also state that Lopez took his complaint up the chain, but upper management took no steps to eliminate the treatment. Lopez then sought and obtained legal representation to enforce his worker rights, but Crenshaw franchise owner Yashuhiko Sugimoto allegedly “threatened him with Homeland Security” if Lopez refused to dismiss the complaint.

Lopez’s lawyer asked for lost wages, employment benefits, medical expenses, damages for emotional and mental distress, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, interest, and lawsuit costs. The settlement terms are unknown.