A longtime Wendy’s employee with Down syndrome was fired from his job after working at the restaurant in North Carolina for more than 20 years. However, the internet stepped in and stepped up to ameliorate the disappointing situation.
Dennis Peek, 51, had worked for over 20 years at the Wendy’s restaurant in Stanley, North Carolina. On Wednesday, Peek's sister declared publicly that he was fired from his job.
Peek's sister, Cona Young Turner, was furious that her brother was fired and slammed the Wendy's location for firing him.
Turner wrote on Facebook, "My brother Dennis has worked at Wendy’s in Stanley for over 20 years and I am heartbroken to say they have fired him!"
"His dream was to retire from there someday and he was looking forward to a huge retirement party," she said. "We may just give him that party and tell him he has retired because he does not understand being fired!"
Turner alleged that management at the Wendy's location told her that Dennis "was unable to perform the duties of a normal person's job."
"I am very disappointed with the management at Wendy’s in Stanley," she continued. "They have no idea how they hurt my brother!"
The Facebook post went viral, racking up more than 13,000 shares and nearly 5,000 comments on the social media platform.
Peek's story was covered by local news outlets, and soon spread to national media publications.
Management at the Wendy's in Stanley quickly reversed course and offered to rehire Dennis.
Turner said, "They have offered Dennis his job back starting next week. My heart is overwhelmed by the support that you all have given my brother and myself! Thank you all so much!"
The Carolina Restaurant Group – which owns the Wendy's in question – gave a statement to WBTV on Peek's termination.
“We are committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for our employees and our customers," the Carolina Restaurant Group stated. "This was an unfortunate mistake and lapse in protocol; we are in touch with the employee’s family, and we are looking forward to welcoming him back to work in the restaurant."
The group was asked if any disciplinary action would be taken against the manager who fired Dennis.
"We cannot comment further on personnel matters, but we’re taking appropriate action," the group replied. "This was an unfortunate mistake that we’re working through with the team member, his job coach and family. We’re also using this as an opportunity to retrain all our teams on our protocols."
However, Turner said that her brother with Down syndrome would not be returning to his former place of employment of more than 20 years.
"Dennis will not be returning to Wendy’s," Turner said.
"He will be having his BIG RETIREMENT party that he has been wanting," she announced. "Wendy’s has offered to help with expenses and anything else they can for his special day."
Turner encouraged people to send cards and letters to Dennis at PO Box 183 Mount Holly, NC 28120.