In 1994, a lifelong comic book enthusiast and prototypical Jersey slacker by the name of Kevin Smith became one of Hollywood’s greatest overnight sensations with the release of his freshman effort and magnum opus, Clerks—a tale of two underachieving connivence store clerks in their mid-twenties grappling with the harsh realities of minimum wage life.
The film’s protagonist, Dante Hicks, is called into work on his day off, only to be tormented by his best friend and coworker, Randal Graves, as well as a slew of other despicable characters, ultimately cultivating in Dante’s very own personal, multi-layered Hell.
Despite the runway success of the film and the entire interconnected universe it spawned, (which fans have affectionately dubbed the “View Askewniverse”), the greatest thread in nearly all of Smith’s films isn’t the lovable duo of Jay & Silent Bob, but rather Smith’s main characters’ aversion to work. But then again, with coworkers and bosses like those featured in Clerks, Clerks II, Mall Rats and Yoga Hosiers, who wouldn’t hate their job?
To highlight the living nightmare that is working a job in in the View Askewniverse, we’ll be taking a look at some of the greatest workplace violations in the history of Clerks franchise, namely the sequel Clerks II, (most of which are enacted by fan favorite slacker, Randal Graves). We’ll also be looking at real-world cases for each employment law case type that Randal’s offenses fall under.
Randal’s Sexual Harassment
Although seemingly played for laughs, the character of Randal Graves is the textbook definition of an inappropriate workplace colleague. He constantly harasses everyone he works with and has even gone so far as to harass customers. One of his primary methods of harassment is sexual harassment. From asking deeply personal questions about his colleagues’ love lives to regularly using sexually charged expletives, Randal has done it all and yet faces virtually zero consequences for his abhorrent actions.
But, if Rosario Dawn’s character, Becky “Becks” Scott, the manager of the fictional fast food burger mecca “Mooby’s”, were to actually exercise her authority as his employer instead of making idle threats to fire him or giving into his depravity, she’d immediately report him to corporate and swiftly open an investigation against him.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment is all too real of an issue within the fast food industry. Currently, the golden arch-flanked giant McDonald’s is embroiled in series of class action lawsuits for its alleged mismanagement of sexual harassment incidents. These claims range from retaliation against employees in the form of reduced work hours to claims of wrongfully termination for reporting instances of sexual harassment.
Just last year, McDonald’s lost a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1) against a North Carolina store whose “people manager” had repeat sexually harassed and eventually assaulted a 16-year-old employee. In addition to paying $12,500 in damages, the string of locally franchised stores was ordered by the EEOC to revise their policies on sexual harassment and post a notice detailing both the lawsuit and federally mandated employee rights which protect workers from discriminatory practices.
Randal’s Instances of Various Discrimination
Randal’s mistreatment of those within his workplace of Mooby’s extends well beyond sexual harassment as the foulmouthed miscreant has also used deeply racist, homophobic, agist, anti-religious and misogynistic language in the presence of both colleagues and customers alike. (It’s honestly a wonder why he hasn’t made national news as the subject of the biggest employment lawsuit in history.)
Obviously, without going into explicit detail, Randal uses string of the some of the worst imaginable slurs in the English language in front of two African American customers; uses disgustingly homophobic language to describe the Lord of the Rings and its fans; demeans his younger colleague, Elias, by repeatedly insulting him for his age and childish interests such as his love for Transformers; makes fun of Elias for his strongly held Christian beliefs, and says incredibly demoralizing and depraved things to his manager Becks about her womanhood.
Sadly, discrimination in all its ugly forms remains a major issue in today’s food service industry, particularly racial discrimination. Back in the late spring of 2019 (2), the sandwich-slinging behemoth that is Subway found themselves under warranted public scrutiny after a manager at their Spring, TX location refused to hire a Black teen applying for a summer job due to her race. And, although the manager was promptly fired once the incident made national news and no lawsuit was ever filed, the actions against said manager should have been taken much sooner.
Quick Stop’s (Possible) Wage & Hour Violations
The entire Clerks franchise and View Askewniverse as we know it is predicated upon a single and seemingly illegal request made by Dante’s boss at the very beginning of the film. The request is for him to come in and work his part-time position as a clerk at the Leonardo, N.J. Quick Stop on his only day off, and it’s safe to assume that his boss threatens him with dismissal if he fails to comply.
So, on top of threats of wrongful termination, Dante is also possibly faced with wage and hour violations, as there is never any discussion of overtime pay to properly compensate him for the extra shift. Given this, it would have been wise for Dante to consult his employment contract with the local Quick Stop, advocate his rights and reach out to a local employment law attorney, but he instead relents and begrudgingly goes to work.
Alas, wage and hour violations are all too common of an issue in today’s convenience services industry. This is best evidenced by the collective $173,000,000 (3) in unpaid wages that various 7-Eleven franchises throughout Australia withheld from their employees from as early as 2015, all the way up until 2020. Had it not been for the intervention of Australia’s Four Corners ABC program, who knows how long this fraud would have persisted?
Fortunately, there exist amazing attorneys such as yourself—attorneys who are committed to representing all wronged employees. Additionally, there also exist lead generation services that can help you connect with victims of workplace violations facing issues from any and all case types.
Should be you ever find yourself in need of more employees to represent, then please feel free to reach out to eGen at 617.800.0089 and we’ll help you in your fight to protect innocent people from all of the Randal Graveses of the world.