'He doesn't see bad in anyone. He loves people,' his sister revealed.
Dennis Peek's town is gearing up to throw him the retirement party he deserves. Peek, who has Down Syndrome, recently made headlines when he was fired from his job at a local Wendy's after more than 20 years of employment. Speaking to CNN, the 52-year-old's sister described him as a caring person with a contagious smile who never met a stranger. "He doesn't see bad in anyone. He loves people," Cona Young Turner revealed. She added that her brother loved working at the Stanley, North Carolina, location of the fast food chain as it gave him the opportunity to see all those who he adored and adored him.
This is Dennis Peek. His sister tells me she found out yesterday he was fired from his job at @Wendys in Stanley, NC after 20+ years. In my report tonight hear what the company says is an “unfortunate mistake” that lead to his termination & what is being done to fix it. @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/iIoUzcoNSA— Hannah Goetz (@HannahGoetztv) October 6, 2022
"All of Stanley knows Dennis. He's lived in the town for 40 years," said Turner. She added that all those who ate at that establishment were familiar with Peek and his solid work ethic. "He was a dining room table cleaner. He picked up trash and took it out to the bins. He restocked condiments and cleaned trays," she said. When Peek's caretaker informed Turner of Wendy's decision to fire her brother, she said, she immediately went to meet the manager of the restaurant he worked at and requested a copy of Peek's termination as she wanted to understand why he was being let go.
This is Dennis Peek. He lives with Down syndrome. Dennis spent 20 years working for Wendy's in his town - until he was fired. That's when the residents of his town did something truly special. https://t.co/AGaEEcqpNc— Chris Essex (@Chris_WTHI) October 12, 2022
However, the manager claimed she didn't have proof of termination and that it was sent to corporate. Turner revealed that she then asked them to have corporate fax the termination papers to the restaurant and left when the manager said that they would call her when they had them. However, when she did not receive the papers or a call even after many hours, Turner took to Facebook to share her grievances. "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, we may just give him that party and tell him he has retired because he does not understand being fired. They told me was unable to perform the duties of a normal person's job," she wrote.
Dennis Peek was a devoted worker @ Wendy's for 20+ yrs & was reportedly fired for not performing the duties of a "normal" person. Wendy's offered his job back & apologized for the mistake, Dennis plans on retiring with a large community celebration instead.https://t.co/32qiwYiVGp— Global Down Syndrome Foundation (@GDSFoundation) October 12, 2022
Turner explained that although she didn't want to go the route of social media, she didn't know how else to get justice for her brother. "It was very unfair to fire him; he would never understand why," she said, adding that Wendy's management should have sat down with her and discussed Peek's performance and let the family handle the situation. "They should decide what's best. If there was any issue with his performance, then Wendy's should have informed me and we would give him his retirement party sooner which would have been a smooth transition," she said. After her post went viral on social media, Carolina Restaurant Group — the owner of Wendy's location — reached out to the family the next morning and said they were unaware of Peek's firing and only found out about it through Turner’s post. Although they offered to rehire Peek, his family ultimately decided retirement was the best step forward.
Now, they are planning to celebrate Peek's two-decades-long career on November 5. People all over the country have reached out with offers to send happy retirement cards and gifts. Meanwhile, despite his former employer offering to help with the party, the town of Stanley has volunteered to sponsor the party at Harper Park where Peek will be presented with a plaque for his 20 years of service and for brightening up the town. "I saw the article and his sister wanting to have a retirement party so I reached out to offer help throwing Dennis a party. She gladly accepted and we’re honored and thrilled to be able to help him," said Tug Deason, the Stanley mayor’s spokesperson. Based on the outpouring of love and support her brother has received from social media, Turner expects the event to be a large celebration. "I'm afraid because of Facebook I expect a huge turnout. A local woman in Stanley is making a huge cake. I have so many people offering to donate to his party," she said.