Back Yard Burgers boardroom bust-up leads to suit

Fired VP lifts veil on CEO Boyd's 'erratic behavior, abusive nature'

A meeting this spring of senior staff at Back Yard Burgers’ headquarters in downtown Nashville became heated — and resulted in a lawsuit — after a compliance officer addressed numerous complaints against CEO James Boyd.

Carl Diaz, who had joined Back Yard late last year as vice president of human resources and corporate compliance, claims he was physically assaulted by Boyd, then fired on the spot at the May meeting.

Diaz filed a lawsuit in federal court against Back Yard Burgers on Tuesday, alleging that Boyd retaliated against him for presenting findings about the CEO’s conduct. According to the complaint, Boyd's “erratic behavior, abusive nature and continual acts of bullying,” resulted in “employee alienation, mass walk-outs, and threats of potential claims and litigation.”

The suit — view it here — maintains that Back Yard Burgers' employment attorney urged Diaz to investigate claims that Boyd had mistreated both field and office workers. The attorney, Kelly Gooch Carlson out of Memphis, also recommended Diaz present his findings to the company’s C-level staff. But things didn't go over smoothly at the May 1 meeting.

“During the presentation, Boyd flew into a rage against Diaz because of Diaz’s refusal to remain silent about Boyd’s illegal activities,” the lawsuit reads. “Specifically, Boyd [...] moved his 6’5” frame towards Diaz in a confrontational manner and stared him down. Diaz refused to engage Boyd, which further infuriated Boyd. Boyd then had Diaz removed from the building and told Diaz not to return."

Diaz is asking the court for back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, relocation expenses, attorney's fees and other expenses for his allegedly abrupt firing.

The suit was filed by Scott Tift of Barrett Johnston LLC.

A phone message left for Boyd wasn't returned as of Wednesday afternoon.