Violence, Intimidation and Racism: Former Employees Sue Piggie Park

March 27, 2023

COLUMBIA, SC - Charges of violence, intimidation and unvarnished racism take center stage in a new lawsuit filed this week against Columbia restaurant and racial flashpoint Maurice’s Piggie Park BBQ and manager Jeff Harrison. The charges center around former employee, Cassandra Robinson, who says that Harrison, the General Manager of the Clemson Road restaurant, pressured her into a sexual relationship in exchange for a pay raise and forced himself onto her before becoming belligerent, violent and descending into racist rants and threats when she tried to refuse.

An additional lawsuit against Harrison and Piggie Park Enterprises was filed last month by Damien Wooden, a friend of Robinson’s who became the target of Harrison’s threats when he stood up for Robinson. When Wooden told Harrison to leave his friend alone, the Piggie Park manager went off the deep end calling Wooden a “n****r” and “porch monkey” while threatening to break his jaw. Wooden and Robinson are both African American.

Robinson is represented by renowned civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers of the Strom Law Firm and Amy Gaffney of Gaffney Lewis, LLC.

“It’s appalling but, sadly, not surprising. After all, the Piggie Park is known more for its blatant racism than its sauce” said Sellers. “For them, Cassandra wasn’t a human being. She was an object that they owned and they could do whatever they wanted to her.”

According to the lawsuit, Maurice’s Piggie Park has a 50-plus year reputation serving as a haven for segregationist belief and the mistreatment of African Americans. Founded in 1953 by unapologetic white supremacist Maurice Bessinger, the Piggie Park lost the landmark Supreme Court case, Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, after denying service to Black customers. The restaurant and its products have also been the subject of boycotts in 2000 when their display of the Confederate flag caused Wal-Mart to remove the restaurant’s mustard-based barbecue sauce from more than 90 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores across the South.

“Bigotry and intimidation like this has no place in the 21st Century,” said Gaffney. “It’s time the Piggie Park enterprise and its leadership learned that lesson once and for all.”