A man in Florida claims he was fired by a restaurant because he’s gay.
In an August 24 TikTok post that has received more than 980,000 views, Justin Olmo claimed he was fired after working only his second shift at the restaurant.
Olmo says that during his shift, while he was still in training, he invited his boyfriend to have a meal with him at the restaurant during a break.
His manager then approached them and asked who his guest was. After Olmo informed the manager the man was his boyfriend, the manager allegedly responded with “Oh, ok,” and walked away.
After finishing his shift, Olmo called back later in the day to get his full schedule. He was told to call back the following day. Each subsequent day, when he called, he was told to call back.
After a few days, he went into the restaurant in person, whereupon he was told by another manager, “We’re so sorry, but we’re not that type of establishment.”
When he asked what she meant, she told him he was not a good fit to work at the restaurant.
“I have no idea what to do. I just lost my job on my second day, literally just cause I brought my boyfriend in to eat with me,” Olmo says in the video.
On October 28, Olmo uploaded a follow-up post with an update on the situation, explaining that the restaurant is a small business with one location, so there’s no corporate office to which he can complain. He also said that, in the days following his initial video, the restaurant came up with “excuses” for his firing.
One of those excuses is that Olmo was a “no-call, no-show” to go see a football game. It’s unclear whether this was a mandatory work event, but Olmo disputes the classification, noting that he called back daily to inquire about his schedule.
Olmo also claimed the restaurant told their version to other employees and “others who have nothing to do with the situation” who didn’t know him, with those people then attacking him on TikTok and other social media platforms.
Olmo also claims the restaurant has accused him of setting up a GoFundMe, with the implication being that he is trying to use his termination to raise money — a charge Olmo denies.
“I haven’t set up a GoFundMe, and I don’t want anyone’s money,” he says in the video.
Olmo has accused the restaurant of disabling comments on their social media accounts, deleting negative reviews, and blocking him and others asking about Olmo’s termination.
“I can’t speak for everyone at the restaurant, but they are essentially doubling down and covering up for this manager who blatantly fired me because of her own personal views,” Olmo said. “It’s pretty sad that this still happens, but it’s to be expected, especially in Florida at this time.”
While Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature has repeatedly refused to pass bills prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations, LGBTQ workers are not necessarily without recourse.
Despite the lack of legal protections at the state level, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. For example, Olmo can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging he was discriminated against based on his personal characteristics in violation of federal law.
The restaurant has limited who can comment on its Facebook posts — which generally indicates that they’ve received an increase in complaints or inquiries regarding alleged discrimination — and Yelp recently put up a warning that it is monitoring comments due to recent reporting on “recent news events,” which appears to be a reference to Olmo’s TikTok post.
“This business recently received increased public attention, which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news rather than actual consumer experiences with the business,” Yelp wrote in a message to platform users.
“We’ve temporarily disabled the posting of content to this page as we work to investigate the content you see here reflects actual consumer experiences rather than the recent events (even if that means disabling the ability for users to express points of view we might agree with). Please note that we apply this same policy regardless of the business and regardless of the topic at issue.”
The Yelp page has also disabled commenting temporarily, telling users who have had real, in-person experiences at the restaurant to “check back at a later date.”
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