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Olive Garden Serves Unlimited Soup, Salad, and Racism

October 10th, 2020 Stephanie Jackson

racism, discrimination on the basis of race, Olive Garden

         Amira Donahue, 16 years old, works as a hostess at Olive Garden in Evansville, Indiana. Amira was serving a table during a normal Saturday night dinner rush when something horrible happened. Her table asked Amira for hot water, and immediately after, the customers bursted into a racist tirade. The table publicly expressed that they preferred a white server over Amira, who is African American. The manager complied with the customers’ request and reassigned a new white server to the table. Afterwards, one woman at the table made comments about Amira to one of Amira’s coworkers. Amira later recounted to a reporter what this woman expressed, “saying that I am not family-friendly, that I should work at a strip club instead of an Olive Garden, that am I even black, am I from here, am I from America — just offhand comments like that. And referring me to ‘the other one.’” Maxwell Robbins, a bystander dining at a nearby table, took to Facebook to expose what had happened to poor Amira.

Olive Garden’s Response

         The Olive Garden spokesperson, Meagan Bernstein, placed a statement in the Washington Post that said: “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and the manager involved no longer works for our company. We completed our investigation on Monday. As a result of our investigation, we made the decision to separate with the manager involved.” The hostile, public statements made to Amira and the request for a new server on the basis of race are racist. The manager set a precedent to employees that customers’ racism will be tolerated in his establishment when he complied with the table’s wishes. Even with this public statement denouncing discrimination, the manager’s willingness to switch servers on the basis of race shows that Olive Garden likely has more work to do in order to achieve racial equality in its workplace.  

The Aftermath of the Racist Activity

         Olive Garden’s slogan is “When you’re here, you’re family.” Clearly, Olive Garden must do a better job of including all parts of our American family at the table. Racism should never be allowed. Amira will live with this experience of unjust discrimination for the rest of her life. In this day and age, the fact that racism could have gone undisputed if the bystander hadn’t posted on social media is despicable. The local NAACP chapter president said that he was appalled with the racist activity and planned to investigate further. Amira’s final statement was, “It’s 2020, not 1920, and I feel like in 2020 we should be over this. Something should have been done, and it will take more than social media to get a problem like this out there.”

Seek Legal Assistance Today

If your rights as a restaurant server or hostess have been violated, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.