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Two former Denny's employees have filed lawsuits saying they were wrongfully fired by the restaurant chain in its attempt to appease a group of Asian-American patrons who claimed they were denied seating.

At the time of their firing in August 1997, Sheri Campney and Milissia Kirts described themselves as "sacrificial lambs."

The two women filed their separate lawsuits Friday in state Supreme Court in Oswego County. Each seeks $1 million plus punitive damages.

Ten students filed a federal lawsuit in August 1997 claiming they were racially discriminated against at a Denny's restaurant in Syracuse on April 11, 1997.

Local prosecutors refused to file criminal charges in the case and instead accused the students of being drunk, disorderly and "orchestrating" their claim. They found no evidence of discrimination.

Ms. Campney, who was the manager of the restaurant at the time of the incident, and Ms. Kirts, who was the hostess, were fired last summer after the Office of Civil Rights Monitor recommended firing Ms. Campney and suspending Ms. Kirts.

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