Ex-Taco John’s Employee Claims Insulting Nametag Was Forced On Him

nametagA 16-year-old took a job at a South Dakota Taco John’s, but didn’t sign on for verbal abuse from his manager. Finally, he says, the worst insult came earlier this week when his manager handed him a nametag with “♡GAYTARD♡” printed on it and forced him to wear it for his whole shift, including in front of customers.

The word, a combination of “gay” and “retard,” should be offensive to all human beings, and certainly should never have been inflicted on a gay teen by his boss. The ex-employee claims that his manager was verbally abusive to him from the beginning. “I’ve been very vulnerable and I’ve been allowing him to say things to me that shouldn’t be said,” he told TV station KELO.

The blog NewNowNext, a publication of the GLBT-themed LOGO cable network, claims to have interviewed to the restaurant’s manager, who claims that the now-departed employee himself was behind the offending nametag. “Everyone has a nickname here, and he wanted a nickname. [Gaytard is] what he picked for a nickname,” the manager explained. He counters that the teen asked a manager to make a nametag with the nickname on it, then put it on himself before quitting on Tuesday. “The [other] manager didn’t force him to do anything,” explained the store manager.

In a statement to KELO, the CEO of Taco John’s called the alleged harassment and abusive nametagging “deplorable.”

At Taco John’s, we believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. We take any accusation of workplace harassment very seriously. The type of discrimination that reportedly took place recently in the Yankton, South Dakota restaurant is deplorable. Such actions will not be tolerated by our company. Taco John’s is committed to doing all we can to make certain nothing like this happens again in any of our restaurants.

The ex-employee wants to pursue legal action against the restaurant, and is now looking for a lawyer.

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  1. webalias says:

    The manager’s claim that the employee wanted to be known as “Gaytard” does not sound credible. But even if it’s the truth, giving the employee the insulting nametag was stupid, and could well spell other legal trouble for Taco Johns (in addition to horrible PR). Even if the employee wasn’t offended by the derogatory nickname, other employees might have been, and the nametag (and likely, other comments and behavior by the manager) might well have created a hostile environment for them. Unfortunately, sexual orientation is not protected in employment in South Dakota (except for a few communities), but disability is. And if the nametag was forced upon the employee as he alleges, he probably has a strong case, regardless.

  2. C0Y0TY says:

    So the manager’s defense against being irresponsible enough to force an employee to wear such a nametag is that he’s irresponsible enough to allow an employee to wear such a nametag.

    • CzarChasm says:

      Yea, this does not look real good for the manager either way, although unlike webalias, I do find it credible that a kid would make himself a name tag like that. That’s exactly the kind of thing I would have done at that age.