An Olive Garden employee who made national headlines last week when a customer requested a white server has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant.
The lawsuit stems back to an incident that occurred on Feb. 29. Amira Donahue, 16, was working her shift as a host at Olive Garden in Evansville. After she sat a customer at a table, the customer requested a white server instead of the server already assigned to the table. Both Donahue and the server are black.
The manager granted the customer’s request and was later separated 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 from the company said.
Customers at the restaurant corroborated Donahue’s account of what happened that day.
“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.”
According to a Facebook post from local law firm Danks and Danks, Donahue left her position at the restaurant because she experienced a hostile work environment.
“After Amira spoke up about being discriminated against by an Olive Garden customer, she has been harassed by and retaliated against by her coworkers and superiors,” the post reads. “Amira told her superiors about the harassment and retaliation by her coworkers, and Olive Garden failed to stop it from continuing.
“Amira did her best to overcome the adversity at Olive Garden, but her environment had become intolerable. The final straw happened yesterday evening when Amira overheard a coworker say, ‘black people will do anything for money’ and ‘I don’t like her,’” the Facebook post continues.
Paparazzi Glamour & Gowns, an Evansville formal wear store, was so inspired by Donahue’s story that they gave her a prom gown for free and offered her a job.
“Your prom dress is here waiting for you — as is a sales associate position with a management team and co-workers who support you in your fundamental right to be amazing, if you ever choose to take us up on it!” a post on the store’s Facebook page reads.