Olive Garden manager let go after allegedly allowing racial discrimination.
One of Olive Garden’s managers in Evansville, Indiana, is accused of racial discrimination and was terminated from his position, according to a statement from the company. “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and the manager involved no longer works for our company,” Olive Garden said in a statement.
The corporate offices of the popular restaurant chain said they were investigating the matter after two black employees said they felt discriminated against. “During the Saturday night dinner rush, a female customer seated with a black server reportedly requested a white server instead, a demand to which managers reportedly acquiesced,” documents state. Olive Garden host Amira Donahue, who is black, said the woman also “went to her manager twice,” calling her “rude and disrespectful.”
At one point, Donahue said, the woman “yelled at her in the middle of a busy restaurant.” She added, “Me and (the server) were both in tears for most of the day because it was just surprising.”
When the woman was leaving, Donahue said, “The customer asked for a refund although she’d already eaten half of her meal. She told the person that was helping her that I’m disrespectful…I need to work at a strip club because I’m not family-friendly.”
She claims she also overheard the customer indicating she wasn’t American and didn’t speak English. Donahue said. “She asked if I’m even black and if I am from here.”
A Facebook user posted of the events, “I’m never going back to the Olive Garden in Evansville. A few white people come in a says that they refuse service from a ‘colored’ server and asks to speak with the manager. The manager without hesitation ensures that they will not receive service from a person of color. That couple should’ve been refused service for even asking something like that!! It’s disgusting that [Olive Garden’s] manager would allow that especially with a very diverse staff…Update: The manager in question has been terminated. It seems like Olive Garden made a massive effort to ensure that this will not happen again and one of the girls I have spoken to seems to be in good spirits with the company. We got done what needed to be done and it shows that we will not stand for any racism around here!”
Donahue said she “loves her job and her managers but that the situation could’ve been handled better.” She explained, “We just have this policy where it’s like the customer is always right no matter what, so I guess he was just trying to help the customer. We deserve more respect than that. I’m literally a 16-year-old child, and this grown woman was just screaming at me in front of everybody.”
The Reverend Gerald Arnold, president of the Evansville NAACP chapter, said, “I’m 76 years old, so I’ve experienced a lot of racial biases. Today, 2020, it grabs you that…if, in fact, this is true, we’re still having to deal with those kinds of issues.” He added that a formal complaint against the restaurant has not been filed.
“As a result of our investigation, we made the decision to separate with the manager involved,” Meagan Bernstein, a spokesperson for Olive Garden’s corporate office, confirmed.
Donahue said she’s heard from the Olive Garden’s corporate offices after filing an internal complaint and has been given a direct line in case something similar happens again. “They’re trying to make it better,” she said.