Too Little, Too Late

Gay couple says Safeway apology inadequate, while Commissioner Litsky suggests three steps for the company to right the wrong

Speaking on behalf of himself and Brendan Harrington, his partner, Jason Morgan said Safeway’s June 16 apology to the couple, released both to Metro Weekly and D.C. City Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), is not enough.

Harrington (left) and Morgan
Harrington (left) and Morgan

”To our knowledge, nobody has been reprimanded,” said Morgan. ”Safeway wouldn’t even say in their statement if the cashier still works there. It seems like that would be an immediate fire-able offense.”

”If I said something like that to a customer where I work, there wouldn’t be a waiting period,” added Morgan, a server at Capitol Hill’s Bullfeathers restaurant. ”I would have been taken out the front door.

”Their apology says that their calls [to us] have not been returned – there’s only been one phone call – and that’s when I said, ‘I’m sorry I’m not going to speak without any kind of representation.’ Even then the phone call was from a district manager.

”This could have been stopped a long time ago had the store manager simply come forward with an apology. I don’t understand the run around and why this was so difficult to get an apology out of them.”

Morgan said the couple is currently securing legal representation to ensure that proper measures are taken against the employee who called the couple ”faggots” on June 11.

”We’re afraid of saying, ‘That’s fine,’ now that we’ve gotten an apology, since we really don’t know if anybody has been reprimanded,” he said.

Morgan added that he feels the apology is a response to coverage of the incident, rather than a response to the couple’s anguish.

”The response has nothing to do with us. It’s only because they’re getting heat from the Metro Weekly story and our Councilmember Tommy Wells. If they really, sincerely wanted to apologize, they would say that they are reprimanding somebody – if not firing them.”

In a June 16 email addressed to Safeway, ANC Commissioner Andy Litsky (6D-04), who represents the residents living across the street from the grocery store at 1100 4th St. SW, told the company his email inbox has been flooded since news broke about the incident.

”What would have happened if somebody walked into Safeway and had said the ‘n word’?,” Litsky said, talking to Metro Weekly on June 16. ”Do you think they would be on their ass?”

”Our folks in the LGBT community are going to hold them to this,” he said, adding that Safeway has more stores in the region than Giant and Whole Foods.

”I don’t think they have the slightest inkling of what a shit storm will be brought upon them if they don’t deal with this properly and swiftly.”

While Litsky points out that Safeway has been good to the community and neighborhood, he says a lack of an immediate response does not fare well for the corporation.

Talking to Metro Weekly on June 16, Craig Muckle, manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations Eastern Division Safeway Inc., said he could not confirm the name of the cashier in question, known only by her first name, Deangelah, or whether she was still with the Safeway company or working at the 4th Street store.

He said, only, ”To my knowledge she’s not at another store. She’s not serving customers right now.”

In his email to Safeway, Litsky asks that Safeway suspend the cashier in question pending the outcome of an investigation; that Safeway provide LGBT-sensitivity training to all employees; and that Safeway post a copy of the D.C. Human Rights Act at every store in D.C.

He added that if those steps are not taken, ”additional measures will be called for.”

Litsky told Metro Weekly that such measures could include a protest boycott of the 4th Street store by the LGBT community.

”This was a terribly unfortunate incident that does not reflect Safeway corporate policy, clearly, and when something like this occurs, any corporation, and certainly one of this size, should have in place a proper approach for dealing with it,” Litsky said. ”Apparently they do not.”

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