Outback Steakhouse, Tea Party lock horns

Outback Steakhouse has drawn the ire of Tea Party supporters after an Illinois waitress  said she was fired for wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” bracelet.

Outback denies the worker, Megan Geller of Woodstock, Ill., was fired because of the bracelet, according to a report in the Northwest Herald newspaper. The restaurant in Crystal Lake, Ill., claims the 23-year-old woman was let go because she was ignoring customers.

Geller said a couple  complained about the bracelet, which she’d worn for months without any problem. The bracelet contains words found on a well-known historical American flag with a yellow background and rattlesnake poised to strike. It was only after the customers complained that she was fired, she said.

The local restaurant has been the target of conservative bloggers and radio hosts, and protests by local Tea Party members, who say Geller’s free speech rights have been violated.

An Outback lawyer told the newspaper Geller would have been told to remove the bracelet if that had been the problem.

“Megan Gellar was not let go because of her Tea Party bracelet,” Outback’s Chief Legal Officer Jospeh Kadow said in a statement.

71 comments Add your comment

Tech '10

November 16th, 2011
12:41 pm

Who really complains about a bracelet? Probably just bad timing at worst on Outbacks part, Longhorn’s is better anyway.

What ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 16th, 2011
12:49 pm

Story does not say how long this women has been employed. If an employer keeps a employee for over 6 months, then that employee is doing a good job. If she was ignoring customers, maybe there was a reason but I somehow doubt it.

I believe the girl. You cant fly an American Flag, you cant put a sign out with your beliefs of GOD and they really dont like conservative tea party people. Lets get a voice recording on the girl and send it to the polygraph guy who does the voice tests. I think I have a right to know if I want to go back to Outbacks or not.

Just so everybody knows

November 16th, 2011
12:50 pm

Outback doesn’t cook any of their steaks at the restaurant, they are pre-cooked and then heated up when you order one. Because of this, I no longer eat at Outback. Just wanted everybody to know.

SAWB

November 16th, 2011
12:54 pm

Yes, bottom line Longhorn’s is better.

Also, anyone working directly with customers should have enough sense not to wear an item that might offend them. While it may be petty it really is just good business etiquette.

Kurt

November 16th, 2011
12:57 pm

Freedom of Speech does not guarantee you a job. If I wore something to work that my boss found offensive, my employment would be terminated. You can exercise your Freedom of Speech all you want; just know that your company can exercise their freedom to fire you.

H. Smyth

November 16th, 2011
12:57 pm

One customer complains and Outback buckles.Typical action in this country now. One person doesn’t like the prayer before a HS football game so it is eliminated. This will continue until the hard working majority in this country says “enough.” This is now a country where the person occupying the Oval Office makes it plain that it is not necessary to obey the Constitution of the United States or to enforce any laws that he doesn’t like. Riots and deaths have resulted from this policy.

LydiasDad

November 16th, 2011
1:00 pm

Why would they have told her to remove the bracelet? It’s a harmless US flag. Why not tell the customer not to be a wacko? Every time someone is offended, some people think we have to change to satisfy them. I don’t get that. Let them be offended.

lazermike

November 16th, 2011
1:00 pm

You’re mistaken, H. Smyth — George W. Bush is no longer president.

LydiasDad

November 16th, 2011
1:04 pm

You’re right lazermike. That’s why all the current problems are the fault of the current President. So why does the left keep bringing Bush into it?

markie mark

November 16th, 2011
1:07 pm

@lazermike…..lame response. Unlike Obama in Libya and now Central Africa (where he sent advisors two weeks ago) Bush got approval from Congress for any actions he took. He respected the rule of law, unlike our current administration and Department of Justice. Nice try, no dice.

PT worker

November 16th, 2011
1:08 pm

Screw Steve and those like him. If it wasn’t for the Tea Party who keep politicians accountable for their actions and they have their right to protest the government to keep congress from explaining and feeling the consequences of such actions like Solyndra, Fast and Furious, ObamaCare, Wallstreet bailsouts, automobile bailouts and more foolishness. I believe they are more active than ignorant voters like I presume describes Steve. People in 1776 said the same thing about the Revolutionary participants and founding fathers and mothers of this great country. This is political correctness at its worst. People can’t fly a dag-gum US flag outside of their &^^^!!! home because of radicals like you however our men and women in uniform including police and civil servants died and will die for you #$$$$$ a@$$$@@!!!!

Des Former Resident of Atlanta

November 16th, 2011
1:10 pm

I am a BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL and I dont eat at OUTBACK because the FOOD SUCKS! But was this person fired for her bracelet or because she was a less than stellar employee. And a good question would be HOW LONG AS THIS FEMALE WORKED at this particular restaurant?

John K

November 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

I thought tea baggers believed businesses could run things how they wish? Or is that only when they do things they agree with?

Devil's Advocate

November 16th, 2011
1:17 pm

Bravo Outback.

I just think it’s funny how certain people have complained about others using various cards for generations (race, sex, religion, etc) but now the politics card is being played left and right by “victims” all over the spectrum. Get a grip and practice what you preach. The bracelet isn’t a requirement of the dress code so the waitress should practice some of that personal responsibility stuff we’ve been hearing about lately and make better decisions pertaining to her employment.

I know my employer doesn’t allow for political statements on the job so why does this waitress think she should be able to get away with it in her situation? People go to Outback to eat, not receive political messages from the workers.

Keith

November 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

I’ve never complained about what a waitress was wearing but I’ve had tons of crappy service. What’s more likely? that she is martyr crucified for her beliefs or just another crappy waitress? If its the former then she’ll find another job, otherwise I’m glad to see her go.

Devil's Advocate

November 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

And my comments are assuming that the fired worker’s side of the story is true. As a waiter, either you’re giving your customers a good experience or you’re not. If you’re not giving them a good experience then perhaps you should be fired. All depends on the level of service acceptable for the establishment and the customers.

Joe

November 16th, 2011
1:23 pm

The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution says, “Government shall make no law abridging freedom of speech …”. The First Amendment does not apply to employees in the private sector. Employees do not even have the right to discuss non-work related issues at all. Most employers allow it, but it’s important to realize that it is a privilege that the employer can revoke at any time. After all, the purpose of the workers is to work.

Why don’t the tea partiers go read the constitution first then comment.

Horseman2

November 16th, 2011
1:26 pm

Employers have a right to enforce a dress code. If an employer does not allow policial statements, then the employee must abide by that code . I agree with the Devil’s Advocate. People have a right to speak as they wish on their own time. But if you are on the clock, abide by the rules.

mike

November 16th, 2011
1:31 pm

Yes she is entilted to wear what she wants and say what she wants. However at work lets try to dress appropriate. Customers come in there to eat, not to hear or see some worker’s political views. Now that she is unemployed, she can join the Army and express herself all she wants.

DawgInaTruck

November 16th, 2011
1:36 pm

Simple common sense (something that is becoming a rarity these days) says NO ONE gets fired just for wearing a bracelet, and especially if someting like that were a first offense. Can you imagination the litigation that would follow? All one has to do is think a little to realize there is more to this story.

Tea Party Meber

November 16th, 2011
1:39 pm

I am sick n tired of are free speach being denied. This is just another case of the liberels running ruffshod on the citizens and the constituion.

TEA PARTY 4 LIFE!

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 16th, 2011
1:42 pm

$10 says the complainants were black. When I was a waitress in college, I hated getting black customers, solely based upon the repeated experience of more frequent requests, lower tips I would get from them versus non black customers.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

November 16th, 2011
1:43 pm

And yes I am sure some blacks tip generously, but not in the aggregate…

C from Marietta

November 16th, 2011
1:49 pm

I stopped going to businesses that express their polticial views. EVEN if I agree with them.
There is a time and place for everything.

Darwin

November 16th, 2011
1:50 pm

How about this scenario. I do something controversial and then get lazy at my job and get fired. Then I blame it on what I did that was controversial. Hoping to sue.

itsmeagain

November 16th, 2011
2:03 pm

To everyone;

Longhorn and Outback are both chain restaurants. Both of them have crappy food. Go to in independent restaurant if you want a good meal.

That is all

Devil's Advocate

November 16th, 2011
2:12 pm

With supporters like Trisha, Herman Cain doesn’t need enemies.

bob

November 16th, 2011
2:13 pm

Hey Steve – being a teabagger is better than being a teabagee

Aquagirl

November 16th, 2011
2:20 pm

And yes I am sure some blacks tip generously, but not in the aggregate

Probably none of them tip a-holes well. There’s your problem.

Will

November 16th, 2011
2:20 pm

Hey markie mark. Didn’t President Bush say he was the “Decider” when he
ignored the United Nations

Will

November 16th, 2011
2:21 pm

Hey trishadishawareagle. As racist as you are I can imagine the poor service Black customers received from you. I wouldn’t tip your anti-American behind either

Marlboro Man

November 16th, 2011
2:22 pm

The money loving tea GOP hate to lose money, that’s the right thing to do to them, make them pay for being greedy.

AB

November 16th, 2011
2:23 pm

Any Republicans whining about this should take a look at the Republican party’s stance on employment law, or better yet how employment law is in Georgia. Most people can get fired for almost any reason at all, in a practical sense, because the way employment law is set up makes it nearly impossible for an employee to win cases like this. Enjoy the bitter fruit of the free market or go think/learn about how the Republican party’s stance would (actually, it does) allow businesses to get away with firing anyone they want for whatever reason they want, so long as they can say it was for a business reason.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

November 16th, 2011
2:58 pm

Reminds me of the business owner back in 2010 that said he was laying off people so he watched who came to work in cars with Obama bumper stickers and they were the folks he laid off. I guess that was OK since so many of you agree with his viewpoint.

The Regressive Party

November 16th, 2011
3:03 pm

AB, your absolutely correct. It just shows that most of these folks posting have no idea what they should be fighting for or against. Talk about brainwashed. In Georgia, it’s common for companies to fire instead of lay-off so they can avoid compensating. Why isn’t the TP fighting against this practice?

As a business owner

November 16th, 2011
3:29 pm

I wouldn’t fire the girl for her beliefs, but I would pity her for identifying herself as a “tea partier”. I wouldn’t need to fire an “occupier” because they don’t have jobs to begin with.

John

November 16th, 2011
3:32 pm

The teabaggers do not understand “free speech” – she did not suffer consequences fromthe government, therefore, her rights were not violated. If Outback didn’t want an emplyee wearing a bracelet for sanity reasons (or because that isn’t part of their uniform), they have the right to request her to remove it. If she doesn’t cooeprate, they are required to continue her employment.

John

November 16th, 2011
3:33 pm

aren’t required to continue her employment.

Ken

November 16th, 2011
3:37 pm

It’s funny how I’ve seen many articles this year pertaining to the rights of businesses to serve and employee who they wish, especially when Georgia is a “At Will” State. Repubs typically grandstand about these rights when a liberal is on the receiving end. All of a sudden, a supposed Tea Party member is fired and their principles go right out of the window. So much for fair and balanced……..

John

November 16th, 2011
3:37 pm

Will,

Sorry, but TrishaDishaWarEagle’s comment is not racist… it is an observation … which is also held by many black servers. I have been informed, by black servers, that they try to avoid … especially larger groups of blacks, because of the average gratuity. Are there any black servers who would like to weigh in on this issue? True or not?

Ken

November 16th, 2011
3:41 pm

John-

I’m guessing you’re ok with profiling then? Just curious. Generalizations can get you into trouble, point blank. Asking someone’s opinion doesn’t make it factual either. Seems there is a lot of that going around these days.

Purple guy

November 16th, 2011
3:43 pm

I am a purple server and orange customers are the BEST tippers !

Jeb

November 16th, 2011
3:48 pm

How does this affect the Dawgs’ 2012 recruiting class?

Misty From Macon

November 16th, 2011
3:53 pm

TrishDisha is again expressing her right to be stooopid. I’m ashamed she’s an Auburn fan — probably not a grad, but a fan of the school. with any luck, maybe Trisha can go back and get her GED before she has her 5th child from her cousin Jim Bob.

Rickster

November 16th, 2011
3:55 pm

The local restaurant has been the target of conservative bloggers and radio hosts, and protests by local Tea Party members, who say Geller’s free speech rights have been violated.

Sorry… no… they haven’t. The First Amendment protects us against the government – not private businesses. “Congress shall make no law” means the government can’t limit what we say (within reason) or our ability to “petition for a redress of grievences.” It doesn’t say that a private company can’t say that if you’re our employee you can’t say certain things.

Too many people who ought to know better so badly misinterpret the First Amendment.

Hypocrisy Ahead!

November 16th, 2011
3:58 pm

Watch…the “Tea Party” (who “is” the tea party, anyway? There’s more Tea Parties in GA than counties) get behind a Plaintiff’s lawsuit for money damages! Here it comes!

Duneflower

November 16th, 2011
4:10 pm

Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you should. Legalities aside, a business owner (directly or through an agent such as a hired manager) has the right to begin and/or terminate any employment as they see fit, provided it doesn’t violate a contract. Said business’ customers also have the right to cease their patronage and/or complain (be it directly to the management or indirectly via protest) if they feel that an employment has been terminated for an illegitimate reason.

Brent

November 16th, 2011
4:13 pm

This is great. Illinois, like Georgia, is an “employment at-will” state, meaning that an employer or employee may terminate the relationship at any time, without any reason or cause. Every American who works for a major company should know the penalty for exercising his or her personal freedom at the expense of the profit-driven company. If this stupid girl wanted protection from her employer to Teabag, she should’ve joined a union. Hahaha!

Southern Comfort

November 16th, 2011
4:14 pm

If Illinois is an at-will employment state, which I think it is, then it’s tough luck for her. That’s what happens in the free market society when you have at will employment. Having the ability to collectively bargain for the right to wear things like that without fear of reprecussion is being removed faster than lumber in the Amazon rain forest. This is one of those cases of “be careful of what you ask for, because you just might get it.”

BillS

November 16th, 2011
4:21 pm

This brief story doesn’t give us enough information to make judgments or criticize the girl or Outback. not that anyone will cease blogging nonsense here….