A manager at a restaurant in Vancouver, Canada, was fired after refusing to serve a customer wearing a MAGA hat. The incident happened last Tuesday at the Teahouse in Vancouver’s Stanley Park neighborhood, but is now sparking debate on both sides of the border.
As a worldwide symbol of President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” the red hats have come to represent all of Trump’s policies, including those that many find discriminatory and hateful. During the incident last week, Teahouse floor manager Darin Hodge approached a customer wearing a MAGA hat on the Teahouse’s patio and asked that he remove it, according to the CBC. Per the restaurant’s general manager, Andy Crimp, when the customer refused to take off his hat, “[Hodge] said if you don’t take the hat off, we won’t serve you. And the man left.”
The management company that operates the restaurant, the Sequoia Company, told CBC that Hodge, who’d worked at the restaurant for 18 months, was fired for not demonstrating its “philosophy of tolerance.”
In response, Hodge told the CBC via a Facebook message: “I stand by my decision. The MAGA hat has come to symbolize racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, misogyny, white supremacy, [and] homophobia. As a person with a strong moral backbone, I had to take a stand against this guest’s choice of headwear while in my former place of work. Absolutely no regrets.” The restaurant’s Yelp and Facebook pages are now sites of online protest; Yelp has put up an Active Cleanup alert on the Teahouse’s listing.
This isn’t the first — nor will it be the last — time a restaurant staffer refuses to serve a customer wearing a MAGA hat. Earlier this year, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that businesses may refuse to serve MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporters, as the fashion choice is not protected by freedom of religious expression laws. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by a MAGA hat wearer who was asked to leave a New York City bar.
The incident in Vancouver follows White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s ejection from the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. There, in the midst of her meal, management and staff conferred and agreed to politely ask her to leave. Sanders did, and then mentioned the incident in a tweet, which started a messy spat of politically charged mudslinging. A line has been drawn, and those on the left stand firmly against forcing (predominately immigrant) restaurant staffers to serve members of an administration that has taken a hard and controversial stance on immigration in recent weeks.