A waitress in Wisconsin has reportedly been fired for standing up for a transgender patron.
Until recently, Brittany Spencer was a server at Fat Joe's Bar & Grill in Fond du Lac, a lakefront town 150 miles north of Chicago. Last weekend, she says, she encountered a couple making transphobic comments about another patron at the restaurant. The couple tried to pull Spencer into their hateful conversation, but she refused.
"They were asking me if I thought it was disgusting and wrong and why we would let someone like that into the establishment," Spencer told local news station WTMJ. "To which I answered, 'No, I do not agree with that,' and walked away."
Spencer asked a manager if she could switch with another server so she wouldn’t have to deal with the transphobic customers, but the manager told her to just go home. After posting about the incident on Facebook, the restaurant told her she’d be fired — not because of the post, but because of her refusal to serve abusive customers.
For its part, the restaurant is doubling down. Co-owner Tad Wallender said that the restaurant welcomes everyone, including customers who harass other patrons.
"If you want to walk in our front door and you want to have our food or drinks, watch TV, watch live music we provide, we're going to serve you as best we can and make you happy to your standards," Wallender told WTMJ.
Wallender also suggested that he’s made similar decisions in the past, "I've been in the service industry for a good 15 years and I've heard hundreds of conversations I didn't agree with," he said, "but it's a matter of fact of brushing it off and having to tough it out through your task."
Spencer plans to file a report with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Wisconsin has a nondiscrimination law that covers sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
“I hope this incident will open people’s eyes that hate like this is still occurring in 2019 and the idly standing by and spreading hate is just as bad as spreading it yourself,” she told the Fond Du Lac Reporter.