The manager of an Evansville, Indiana, Olive Garden is out of a job after allegedly complying with a customer’s request not be served by African-American staff members.
The incident unfolded last Saturday at the eatery on Green River Road. Amira Donahue was the hostess on duty at the time when the woman’s request for hot water soon took an ugly turn.
“She asked for a server that wasn’t black and the manager complied,” Donahue told local station WEHT, adding that the customer proceeded “screaming at me in front of all the customers.”
Two other Black employees were also targeted in the incident.
Donahue said she doesn’t agree with her manager’s willingness to fulfill the customer’s racist request, saying things should’ve been handled differently.
That manager has since earned a spot in the unemployment line.
“We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and the manager involved no longer works for our company,” the Italian restaurant chain confirmed in a statement to Newsweek.
Donahue said she and her co-workers are still rattled by the incident that brought her to tears. The customer’s bad behavior apparently didn’t stop with taking exception to the employees serving her.
“The lady also made comments about me to another coworker saying that I am not family-friendly and that I should go work at a strip club instead of an Olive Garden,” the hostess, who’s African-American, recalled. “[She asked] ‘am I even black, am I from here, am I from America,’ — just like offhand comments like that and referring me to the ‘other one.’”
Donahue told WEHT she would never expect such blatant discrimination in 2020.
As news of the incident spread, many took to social media to corroborate the employees’ accounts and weigh in on the controversy.
“Well I will not be eating at Olive Garden again,” one Twitter use wrote. “Stop catering to these racist, its getting ridicules, she should’ve been asked to leave the restaurant. You don’t cater to hate… @olivegarden.”
“Why didn’t the manager ask that person to leave bc she was upsetting the other customers with her ignorant racist demands?” another chimed in. “There’s one thing you don’t have to have as a manager at Olive garden and that is common sense.”
Maxwell Robinson witnessed the incident first-hand, later recalling in a Facebook post how the woman and her group “refused service from a ‘colored’ server.”
“That couple should’ve been refused service for even asking something like that!!” Robinson wrote, adding, “It’s disgusting that olive garden’s manager would allow that especially with a very diverse staff.
“I felt the need to post that on Facebook because I do not think anyone would’ve stood up for those [employees],” he told “Today” in a separate statement. “Amira [the hostess] was in tears and did not have anyone supporting her at that time, so I felt someone had to stand up for her.”
An investigation into the incident remains ongoing. The Evansville chapter of the NAACP said it would also look into the claims.
Watch more in the video below.