A woman is returning to work at a Dickson pretzel store after she claims she was fired because she is deaf.
Keri Watkins worked at the Auntie Anne's pretzel shop inside the Dickson Walmart.
The store manager, Kami Tucker, who is also Keri's sister, said Watkins was fired by the new owners. She said the owners told her a deaf employee was incapable of working in the store.
Tucker said she was also let go when she protested her sister's firing. On Wednesday, the corporate owners of Auntie Anne's said they had taken the store back from the franchisee. It will now be run as a company-owned store.
Both Tucker and Watkins got their jobs back.
The company released this statement about the decision:
Effective Friday, August 12, Auntie Anne’s corporate will take ownership of, and operate, the Dickson, Tennessee, Auntie Anne’s location. Auntie Anne’s has a longstanding track record of fostering an open, receptive and diverse workplace.
This week we were notified that an employee at the franchise location in Dickson made an accusation of discrimination against a potential franchisee of that location, which was scheduled to be transferred from the current owner on August 10. That franchisee will no longer be purchasing the store.
Under corporate ownership, we intend to offer employment to all of the store’s former employees, including Kami Watkins Tucker and Keri Watkins, subject to our normal hiring practices. Auntie Anne's announced it will hold a reopening ceremony for the Dickson store on Friday at 10 a.m. Auntie Anne's President Heather Neary will be on hand.