A Bay Area man named Cole White was fired from his job at Berkeley cheap eats institution Top Dog after he was ID’d as one of the marchers in the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend. [UPDATE 8/14/17: The restaurant has confirmed to Bay Area news station KRON 4 the Cole White was not fired; he resigned.] On Saturday, Twitter user @yesyoureracist shared photos from the Friday night march with the message: “If you recognize any of the Nazis marching in #Charlottesville, send me their names/profiles and I'll make them famous.” By Sunday morning, White had been identified in the photo and the management at Top Dog sent @yesyoureracist word that he had been terminated:
On Sunday, the management at the popular Cal Berkeley campus-adjacent restaurant posted this sign in the window:
A legal analyst for local CBS affiliate KPIX5 explains the legality of the restaurant firing the employee: “It’s not a First Amendment issue... It doesn’t protect you from actions by your private employer. It’s also probably not a discrimination issue, because going to a rally like this, participating like this, doesn’t make you a member of a protected class.”
Top Dog’s Facebook page is flooded with complaints from users regarding White’s employment in the first place, and the restaurant’s homepage is down for the count. A staple of the Cal Berkeley dining scene for over four decades, Top Dog was included as writer John Birdsall’s pick on a recent list of the best hot dogs in America.
UPDATE 8/14/2017 at 7:50pm: Bay Area news station KRON 4 reports that Cole White was not fired, but that he resigned. The restaurant sent KRON the following statement:
Since 1966, top dog has been devoted to serving quality hot dogs to the Oakland and Berkeley community at an affordable price to everyone who walks through our doors. Our employees and customers come from all backgrounds and beliefs. This has helped build the community within and around top dog and one of the reasons why we have been open for business for more than 50 years.
We pride ourselves on embracing and respecting all our differences and every individual’s choice to do as that person wishes within the boundaries of the law. We do not endorse hatred or any illegal conduct. It simply is not part of our culture.
We do respect our employees’ right to their opinions. They are free to make their own choices but must accept the responsibilities of those choices.
On Saturday, August 12, it came to our attention that one of our employees was involved in the recent ‘alt-right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Later that day we spoke with Cole White. During that conversation Cole chose to voluntarily resign his employment with top dog and we accepted his resignation.
There have been reports that he was terminated. Those reports are false. There have been reports that top dog knowingly employs racists and promotes racist theology. That too is false.
Individual freedom and voluntary exchange are core to the philosophy of top dog. We look forward to cooking the same great food for at least another 50 years.
As Eater SF notes, the owners of Top Dog don’t shy away from politics either. The restaurant’s walls are adorned with Libertarian literature, and the Top Dog website has a section marked “Propergander,” where guests can find links to more reading materials.
• @Yesyoureracist [Twitter]
• Berkeley’s Top Dog fires employee who went to white nationalist rally [Berkeleyside] • Berkeley Hot Dog Stand Fires Cook Seen At Charlottesville Protest [KPIX]