A gay South Dakota teen is raising awareness on social media after enduring months of discriminatory harassment from a manager at his fast food restaurant job, who allegedly forced him to wear a name tag that read “GAYTARD.”
16-year-old Tyler Brandt filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week, claiming that the manager of Taco John’s in Yankton had been looking for reasons to fire him based on his sexual orientation. On June 23, Brandt claims the manager forced him to wear the “GAYTARD” name tag in full view of customers.
Brandt says he wore the name tag because he feared being fired, though he resigned the following day. He explained in an open letter posted by the ACLU, adding that the manager also called him “faggot,” among other slurs:
Every time I had to help a customer, I tried to stand so that it was hidden by the register. But that didn’t really make much difference because the manager kept calling me “gaytard” really loudly in front of customers for the rest of my shift: “Hey, gaytard, help this customer!” and “Take out the trash, gaytard!” It was extremely humiliating.
Speaking with the Argus Leader, John Scott, a manager at the franchised Taco John’s location, said Brandt has fabricated much of the story and originally asked a manager to make the name tag for him to wear.
In response to the allegation, Brandt said “Why would I want to do something that insults who I am?”
Taco John’s International CEO Jeff Linville released a statement Wednesday, saying that Taco John’s intends to fully cooperate with the EEOC’s investigation. Linville says that because this particular location is a franchise location, and that “the decision whether to discipline the franchisee may only be made when it is legally concluded that a law has been violated by the franchise owners.”
Linville also sympathized with Brandt, adding: ““We think what happened to Tyler is deplorable, and this is a chance for Taco John’s International to make it right.”
In the meantime, the ACLU has launched a Tumblr asking people to submit positive messages of encouragement for Brandt.
Personally I don’t understand why he endured the months of abuse. Were there no other jobs in town? Why did he fear losing his job? We don’t know those circumstances that need to be answered. The first time the manager started in on me, I would’ve left, but he’s not me and he’s doing the right thing. Since it’s a franchise we don’t know what the owner is going to do, but I think the gays in the area should jump into action and call a boycott and get the manager fired. It seems to me that the more we pull for gay rights, the worse the homo-haters come to light and disrespect gays. In the 70s when I worked for Church’s Fried Chicken in Houston the whole crew and the two managers that passed through knew I was gay and I NEVER had any problems. We joked about it because of the guys I dated but never in a bad way. The assistant manager who was a senior in high school and another crew member and I had bromances. One of the crew members lived with me for a while as a roommate and we never had problems either. When my lover and I got together and I moved on to another job they threw me a going away party. I just don’t understand all the bullshit going on these days with disrespecting our gay boys.
This is unfortunate. But the kid should have grown a pair and put that piece of shit manager in his place. Minimum wage isn’t worth that kind of humiliation
@Rusty Alcorta: I guess you didn’t read the article. He resigned the next day.
I can understand why he put up with it. He’s only 16. He’s just a kid who was probably scared about losing his presumably first job. I’m just glad he was finally able to stand up for himself and take the proper action. Most kids nowadays would’ve probably brought in a gun and shot the manager!
@Rusty Alcorta: Why do you need “answers?” It seems as if you’re trying to blame the victim, as many do in domestic abuse situations. Making this about YOU is weird.
Back to the topic:
Even if the youth asked the manager to make the name tag, the manager should have responded, “No, that is not appropriate.” Does this manager do everything that subordinates ask of him?
Perhaps it started with the Tyler Clementi suicide a few years back, but I am noticing in the press & through social media more and more young people standing up for themselves against the bigotry and ignorancethey experience in their communities, workplaces, houses of worship and schools alike. The national anti-bullying campaign that seemed to have taken off following the Clementi incident seems too be working in that it has emboldened a new generation to confront the ugliness that used to be given an unchallenged pass.Re: this young man..at 16 he doesn’t have many options. He presumably is still at school, lives with his family and with a population of 15 k there cannot be that many opportunities in Yankton now nor in the future. Actually when you consider all that, he really is a brave young man to risk the opprobium that will come from this public complaint.Hopefully, he won’t go through this alone in Yankton, South Dakota.
@Larry: I guess you didn’t read the article when he said “After enduring months of discriminatory harassment”.
@SteveDenver: He endured months of harassment and I said we didn’t know the circumstances of why he did. What if he endured because without the job he would’ve been out in the streets or lost his only means of transportation? I think as soon as the manager started in on him, he should have quit and reported the manager or vice versa. Nobody should have to endure being harassed by a manager or coworkers for months.
It is very hard to speak up at the age of 16 and in South Dakota which is still catching up with others about the LGBT community. It appears, however, that Tyler is on the way and will become stronger because of this discriminatory action that his manager took.
What I was looking for in this story was a statement from at least ONE customer who witnessed this and for a video (most fast food restraunts have cameras for security reasons) of him wearing THAT tag. The screen can be blown up to be sure.
I will come right out with it. I don’t believe him. There is more to this and it all sounds made up.
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