Wisconsin Waitress Fired After Not Serving Transphobic Customers

"Turning a blind eye to hate is just as bad as saying the hateful things."

A Wisconsin woman says she was fired from a restaurant after standing up for a trans customer.

Brittany Spencer, a waitress at Fat Joe’s Bar & Grill in Fond du Lac, tells Milwaukee’s WTMJ TV she was serving a couple last Saturday when they began making disparaging comments about a trans woman at the bar.

“They were asking me if I thought it was disgusting and wrong and why we would let someone like that into the establishment,” Spencer said. “To which I answered, no, I do not agree with that and walked away.”

Spencer, who had worked at Fat Joe’s for a few months, then asked her manager if someone else could serve those customers because she didn’t feel comfortable. “[My manager] essentially told me to suck it up or go home,” Spencer recalls. “To which I said, ok. I will leave.”

“We are going to serve anyone in here as long as it’s a safe environment,” says Fat Joe’s owner Tad Wallender. “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.”

“She took her moral beliefs and hey, everyone has their moral beliefs,” Wallender continues. “I’m not going to hold that against anyone else. She refused to do a duty we hired her for. That’s the bottom line in a nutshell. If you’re not going to do your duty, you don’t have to work that night. We’ll just send you home.”

Wallender, who clarifies that he would also send home a server who refused to serve a trans person, says he planned on having a conversation with Spencer the following day. But after Spencer went home and posted about the incident on Facebook, she was told she was fired.

Spencer then encouraged social media contacts to leave negative reviews on the Fat Joe’s Facebook page. “I was in awe by how many people were disgusted by this behavior and left comments to the point they deleted their Facebook page to keep the reviews from spreading,” she says. Wallender confirms that the page was temporarily deleted due to the political comments.

“Ignoring hate and ignoring people talking like that is not being neutral,” Spencer says. “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.”

Spencer says she is filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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