'Morals over money': Waitress fired after refusing to serve transphobic customers

"Turning a blind eye to hate is just as bad as saying the hateful things in my opinion," the waitress, Brittany Spencer, said.
By Gwen Aviles

A waitress who was fired after refusing to serve transphobic customers at a Wisconsin restaurant on Saturday said she has no regrets about putting “morals over money.”

During her shift at Fat Joe’s Bar and Grill in the town of Fond du Lac, Brittany Spencer overheard a couple making insulting comments about a transgender customer sitting at the bar. As she served the customers, they turned to her to ask what she thought about the trans patron.

"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 NBC 26, NBC News’ Green Bay affiliate. "To which I answered, ‘No, I do not agree with that,’ and walked away."

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Spencer said she asked her manager if another employee could serve the table, because she was uncomfortable, but her manager said no.

“She essentially told me to suck it up or go home," Spencer told NBC 26. "To which I said, ‘OK, I will leave.’"

That night, Spencer took to Facebook to share what happened, stating that she was sent home for refusing to serve the customers. The following day, she was alerted by the restaurant’s management that she’d been fired from her waitressing position.

“I WAS FIRED FROM MY JOB BECAUSE I REFUSED TO WAIT ON A TABLE WHO WERE MAKING TRANSPHOBIC REMARKS ABOUT GUESTS AT ANOTHER TABLE,” Spencer wrote on her Facebook page Sunday. “But I’ll always choose my morals over money. See ya.”

Fat Joe’s has since disabled its Facebook page following an inundation of negative reviews. The establishment did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment, but Tad Wallender, one of the co-owners of Fat Joe’s, told NBC 26 that the restaurant serves all customers and that Spencer was fired for “refusing to do the duty we hired her for.”

"We are going to serve anyone in here as long as it's a safe environment," Wallender said. "I've been in the service industry for a good 15 years, and I've heard hundreds of conversations I didn't agree with, but it's a matter of fact of brushing it off and having to tough it out through your task.”

Spencer said she has received a bounty of supportive Facebook messages thanking her for standing up against transphobia. She has also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination.

While she is in the process of looking for a new job, she said the incident at Fat Joe’s is “bigger than” what happened to her.

"Ignoring hate and ignoring people talking like that is not being neutral," Spencer said. "That's allowing hate to happen in your establishment, and I didn't think that was appropriate so I left. Turning a blind eye to hate is just as bad as saying the hateful things in my opinion."

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