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Fond du Lac restaurant defends itself following backlash for firing an employee

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FOND DU LAC, WI (CBS 58) – Fat Joe's Bar and Grill is defending itself after facing backlash for firing an employee.

A waitress claims she was let go for refusing to serve customers who made transphobic remarks. However, the restaurant says that’s not why she was fired.

The establishment is still open for business, but their Facebook page has been taken down.

You may have seen the post floating around your social media page. It was made by Brittany Spencer Saturday night after being sent home for not waiting on a table.

“They happen to catch a glance at the table of three and started making derogatory transphobic comments about the person wearing the dress, and then attempted to engage me in the conversation,” explains Spencer. “I immediately found my manager, Whitney, and asked politely not to serve them because I did not feel comfortable after the comments they were making. I was told to either suck it up or go home.”

“Everybody has their opinions, everybody is entitled to their opinions,” says Whitney Wallender, an owner and operator of the restaurant. “Us as a business, we have to stay as neutral as possible.”

Wallender says she and her management team made the decision to send Brittany home for the day, but hadn’t fired her.

“She decided she wanted to post stuff on Facebook about being sent home,” says Wallender. “And we just made the business decision that we can’t have employees that aren’t going to make us look good as an establishment.”

Wallender fired Spencer the next day.

“I said if you guys think this is wrong, go leave a review on their Facebook page,” says Spencer.

The overwhelming response caused the business to take down their page, but they say the incident hasn’t affected their day-to-day operations.

“We should be able to get along as a community,” says Wallender. “Everyone has different opinions, and I think it’s important that we know how to live with people that have different opinions than us.”

“If they felt they were being harassed, if they did, I apologize -- that was never my intention,” says Spencer. I don’t want anyone to be harassed, but they do need to know that what they did was wrong.”

Spencer is in the process of finding another job.

Owners of the establishment say it’s business as usual for them. They say they plan on having their Facebook page back up again soon.

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James 30 days ago
Saw this story posted on a national website and wanted to see how much traction it really had. To be honest, I am a little meh...
So, the server overhears a conversation between guests of hers at a table and takes offense to it. Some articles say that the guests tried to engage her in the conversation, others dont. Not sure if she covered that in her Facebook post, but either way, she is in the service industry and its technically her job to serve both tables.
Asking for a different server to take the table that offended her would at face value seem to be reasonable request. Unfortunately, we dont know the exact circumstances of that particular moment. Was she the only server on the floor, was it super busy, was the other server transgender?
My first instinct was to side with the server, but after reading what is available, I really dont think the establishment did anything awful.
Both groups are stated as "regulars" in all the articles I've read. That tells me that they both feel comfortable frequenting the establishment and have had no problems in the past. It seems like the only person that had a problem was the server. If that's the case, its maybe a good thing that she is seeking more enjoyable employment.
JohnnyOne 31 days ago
As I read it, she asked to be transferred to another table, and the management refused her request. Asking to be transferred is a reasonable request--what if a particular table was sexually harassing a waitress? Or a bunch of racists was maligning a black server? Would the management's policy still be "We have to be neutral, and our staff has to serve people even if they're uncomfortable doing so"? Even when they have other staff that could have accommodated that request?
RicN 32 days ago
Fat Joe's supports slamming a regular customer vs standing up for them? Buh bye! Not my kind of place at all. I wonder what the manager would have done if the transgender person was making disparaging comments about old farts.
JoeWong 32 days ago
Good for Fat Joe's. Screw that millennial, It was a smart decision to send her home then fire her. On my way to Oshkosh or Green Bay, I will stop there instead of Johnny Rocket's
Tim 33 days ago
I was in a golf outing that was on the same day as a Fat Joe's Bar and Grill golf outing. They were the rudest people I've ever met on a golf course. I suspect they were just customers, but I don't go to Fat Joe's Bar and Grill because of it, just because of how bad they made the place look. Besides our our one Asian, we were all straight white males, so I'm not sure where the rudeness was coming from.
Anonthony 34 days ago
If they want to "look good as an establishment" they should start by prohibiting bigoted behavior by patrons. You can't be "neutral" on every thing, all the time. Not taking that simple, reasonable stand shows them as ignorant clowns that I would never give money to.

"We have to learn to live together" okay, learning lesson 1 - your ignorant patrons are up first.
Kendall 34 days ago
If you look at Brittany's original post about being sent home, she did not mention the establishment or disclose who they were, nor was anything whatsoever said about, and no one was encouraged to, leave negative reviews. It was AFTER she had been fired that this all happened. There's a screenshot of the establishment posting that she was fired for not serving the table like she was hired to do, and now they are taking that back and saying its because of facebook backlash before she had been fired. This is false. I'm happy to provide these screenshots and I'm sure others are as well, but they are backpedaling and lying at this point.
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