EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The manager at an Evansville, Indiana Olive Garden accused of racial discrimination no longer works for the restaurant, according to a statement from the company.
"We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and the manager involved no longer works for our company," an emailed statement read.
Earlier Monday, corporate leadership confirmed they were investigating after two black employees said they faced discrimination at the restaurant chain's Evansville location.
During the Saturday night dinner rush, a female customer seated with a black server reportedly requested a white server instead, a demand to which managers reportedly acquiesced.
Olive Garden host Amira Donahue, who is black, said the woman also went to her manager twice to complain about her performance, calling her rude and disrespectful.
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At one point, Donahue said, the woman yelled at her in the middle of a busy restaurant.
"Me and (the server) were both in tears for most of the day because it was just surprising," Donahue said.
Donahue said the server wasn't emotionally ready for an interview.
Then, when the woman was leaving, Donahue said the customer asked for a refund although she'd already eaten half of her meal.
"She told the person that was helping her that I'm disrespectful ... (that) I need to work at a strip club because I'm not family-friendly," she said.
Donahue also said the woman was overheard insinuating she wasn't American and didn't speak English.
Donahue said she's experienced some insensitive comments from customers in the few weeks she's worked there, but nothing came close to what the woman said.
Several Facebook posts corroborated her account of what happened.
"A few white people come in (and) says that they refuse service from a 'colored' server and asks to speak with the manager," wrote Maxwell Robbins, who told the Courier & Press he went to dinner at the restaurant around 5:30 p.m. "The manager without hesitation ensures that they will not receive service from a person of color."
Donahue said she loves her job and her managers but that the situation could've been handled better.
"We just have this policy where it's like the customer is always right no matter what, so I guess he was just trying to help the customer," she said. "We deserve more respect than that. I'm literally a 16-year-old child, and this grown woman was just screaming at me in front of everybody."
The Rev. Gerald Arnold, president of the Evansville NAACP chapter, said he hasn't received a written complaint about the alleged incident but added that there will be an investigation.
"I'm 76 years old so I've experienced a lot of racial biases," Arnold said. "Today, 2020, it grabs you that ... if in fact this is true, we're still having to deal with those kinds of issues."
He told the Courier & Press Monday night that the manager was fired.
Evansville-Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission Executive Director Diane Clements-Boyd said she couldn't confirm whether a complaint has been filed with the body.
A local Olive Garden manager referred C&P to corporate media relations.
"We have a zero tolerance for discrimination," Olive Garden spokesman Hunter Robinson said, adding that the company's senior leadership is looking into the situation.
Earlier Monday, Robinson said the company's investigations are typically kept confidential for privacy reasons.
Donahue said she's heard from the restaurant's corporate offices and has been given a direct line in case something similar happens again.
"They're trying to make it better," she said.
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Olive Garden manager fired after customer refused black server