A name tag at work is a way for customers to know who you are, but for one former employee at Taco John's in Yankton, he says it was a mode of alleged discrimination. Sixteen-year-old Tyler Brandt wanted to work at the fast food chain to make some extra money, but he says his manager was always agitated and verbally abusive.
"I've been very vulnerable and I've been allowing him to say things to me that shouldn't be said, and after a while I was just worried about being terminated from my position at Taco John's," Brandt said.
That fear led Brandt to let the words continue, until this week when he says the manager made the ultimate gesture of discrimination.
"He pulled me into the office and gave me a nametag that read 'Gaytard' on it and asked me to wear it. So, I put it on because I didn't want to upset him and I felt that if I did do anything to upset him, it would cause me to lose my job because he'd be looking for ways to fire me," Brandt said.
Brandt says he tried taking it off several times, but he says the manager forced him to wear it all day in front of the customers.
"I would always stay behind the till so they couldn't see the name tag, I didn't want them to see it, but even though they couldn't see it, he would still call me by the name across the store and customers would notice," Brandt said.
Brandt says the verbal abuse from the manager continued until the moment he left the store. After talking with his partner and close friends, he decided to quit the next day.
"After I handed them over my uniform, they really didn't say anything, they just said 'ok' and when we went to walk out, he lifted out his hand and said 'Nametag?' as though he deserved to have that name tag after his son labeled me," Brandt said.
We did try to reach out to the manager at Taco John's and he told us that he will not be giving any comment on this situation at this time.
Brandt is now searching for a lawyer in hopes of pursuing some legal action that will help him begin to move forward.
"I don't think that any person has to put up with what has been going on. I don't think that anybody should have to put up with any kind of discrimination. It's not fair," Brandt said.
In a statement to KELOLAND News, Taco John's CEO Jeff Linville says: At Taco John’s, we believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. We take any accusation of workplace harassment very seriously. The type of discrimination that reportedly took place recently in the Yankton, South Dakota restaurant is deplorable. Such actions will not be tolerated by our company. Taco John’s is committed to doing all we can to make certain nothing like this happens again in any of our restaurants.