The manager of a Vancouver, British Columbia restaurant has been fired for refusing to serve a customer wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, Global News is reporting.
Details of the incident are scarce: it’s not clear when it happened, or whether or not the customer wearing the hat was Canadian or American.
Nevertheless, at some point recently a man wearing the red-and-white hat bearing the Trump administration’s slogan attempted to enter Vancouver’s Stanley Park Teahouse, which is owned by the Sequoia Group of Restaurants. Manager Darin Hodge said in a statement that he asked the man to take off the hat. The man refused, saying he had a right to wear it, so Hodge told him that he wouldn’t serve him if he didn’t take off his hat. The man still declined, so Hodge asked him to leave. The man apparently left without incident.
Hodge says he’d do it again.
“The MAGA hat has come to symbolize racism, bigotry, islamaphobia [sic], misogyny, white supremacy, homophobia. As a person with a strong moral backbone, I had to take a stand against this guest’s choice of headwear while in my former place of work.”
Hodge’s former bosses in the restaurant’s ownership group don’t dispute his version of events.
A manager at Vancouver’s Stanley Park Teahouse restaurant has been fired for refusing service to a customer wearing a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat https://t.co/rPlLCFKTId pic.twitter.com/NHpSfIJGRT— Nichole holgate (@nicholeholgate) June 30, 2018
In a statement, a spokesperson for the group confirmed Hodge’s story, and even went as far as to call him “a good person with a big heart.” However, his actions that day violated the company’s “philosophy of tolerance.”
“Sequoia does not support intolerance of any kind, and it is because of these principles that we cannot discriminate against someone based on their support for the current administration in the United States or any other bona fide political party.”
So does Hodge have a case for wrongful termination? Almost certainly not, says Employee and human rights lawyer David Brown. Provided he (Hodge) wasn’t being discriminated against in some way, there’s nothing in Canadian law that prevents your boss from firing you even for reasons not related to employment. Further, says Brown, although Hodge’s political beliefs are protected by Canada’s human rights laws, so are the customer’s.
However, Brown says that Hodge is free to sue for wrongful termination and try to make his case if he chooses. It’s unclear, as of this writing, if Hodge intends to do so.
This is not the first time a person’s association with Donald Trump, however obliquely, has cost them service at a restaurant. Earlier this month, White House associate Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Washington-area restaurant by the owner, who refused to serve her on “moral grounds.”