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She Demanded White Server, Got a Yes 'Without Hesitation'

Olive Garden cans manager after encounter in Evansville, Ind.
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2020 9:02 AM CST

(Newser) – The manager of an Olive Garden in Evansville, Ind., has been fired after consenting to a customer's request that her black server be replaced with a white one. Hostess Amira Donahue, 16, tells WEHT that a white female customer requested hot water during Saturday's dinner rush before demanding that she be attended not by the black server assigned to her, but by one of her white co-workers. The server was left "in tears for most of the day," per the Evansville Courier & Press, as was Donahue, who is also black. She tells WEHT the woman told another server Donahue "should work at a strip club instead of an Olive Garden" questioned whether she was from the US. "I never expected it to be so apparent and public," Donahue says. "It's 2020, not 1920."

In a Facebook post, another customer seated nearby described the manager consenting "without hesitation" to "a few white people" who'd refused service from a "colored" person. "The young lady was in tears and had no one to support her," the man tells NBC News. Donahue tells the Courier & Press that the woman also demanded a refund. It's unclear if the manager agreed to that request. After an investigation, Olive Garden "made the decision to separate with the manager involved," a rep tells the Washington Post, noting "we have zero tolerance for discrimination." The local NAACP chapter has launched its own investigation, though its president says "the culture" of the restaurant likely isn't the problem. "I go there myself," he tells WEHT. "They have a very diverse staff, a very diverse clientele." (Read more racial discrimination stories.)

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