On Wednesday, a transgender barista booted a young conservative woman from a coffee shop in Lincoln, Neb., attacking her for her political principles. The coffee shop later apologized to the conservative woman and fired the impolite barista — in a move the barista interpreted as evidence of discrimination against transgender people.
“This morning, I was asked to leave Cultiva Coffee and never come back because of my conservative principles,” Marilyn Synek, a communications specialist at the Nebraska Family Alliance, wrote on Facebook. Synek had a weekly tradition of eating breakfast at Cultiva. Yet on Wednesday, a barista attacked her for her political views, kicking her out of the shop.
“Today, an employee of the shop approached me and said, ‘Marilyn Synek! I didn’t recognize you until now, but I just realized who you are, what you stand for, and the work you do. You are f****** bigoted trash, and we do not want you in our restaurant. Over 80% of the people who work here are queer. You are not f****** wanted in our restaurant, so get out and don’t come back! If you do try to come back, we will all refuse any service to you.’ The cafe was busy with other customers who watched the incident transpire,” Synek wrote.
“I’ve never broadcasted my political opinions in the shop before, and I have always treated the employees of Cultiva with respect and courtesy. While we, as Americans, can disagree politically, it is very important to maintain civility when interacting with people who hold different world views. Tolerance goes both ways, and the division in our current political climate will perpetuate if we neglect basic civility,” she concluded.
Update: One of owners of Cultiva just messaged me and apologized for what transpired. They said they did not condone the…
Cultiva owners Jason Anderson and Sharon Grossman posted a statement announcing that the barista had been fired for mistreating a customer. They admitted that there was an incident “wherein an employee lashed out at a customer over political/religious beliefs.”
“The employee was fired almost immediately, and the rest of the day has been spent apologizing to the customer, a mention on national talk radio, fielding threatening phone calls and nasty emails, talking to the newspaper, receiving odd and sometimes clearly fake reviews on Facebook, a bit of soft doxxing on Twitter and the like. Ugliness has come from all corners of the political spectrum, interestingly enough,” the owners wrote. ‘Thankfully some people have made very nice comments and come to our defense as well. We appreciate you!”
“While we’re proudly liberal personally, and believe in human rights and diversity to the fullest degree, let it be known that we would *never* condone treating a customer this way,” Anderson and Grossman added. “We’re running a business, and we try to instill professionalism in our staff, usually successfully.”
“We’re more than happy to have people sit in our stores and discuss politics with civility, as has been a tradition in coffee shops for centuries,” they wrote. This is true: the coffee shops of London and Paris were particularly famous for political discussions, going back to the 1700s. “Whatever your race, religion, gender identity, or general political beliefs, we just want you to enjoy our food and coffee, and have a good time, and tell other people you had a good time.”
This measured response was refreshing in these partisan times, but the fired employee, Natalie Weiss, attacked the coffee shop for abetting the status quo. She acted as if the job of a coffee shop is not to serve customers, but to push liberal political activism.
“This morning, while I was working a shift, an employee of the Nebraska Family Alliance, and a former member of Ben Sasse’s campaign staff came into the store. If you’re unfamiliar with Sasse’s, or the Nebraska Family Alliance’s stance on the LGBT2QIA+ community, and our rights as Nebraskans to experience equality under the law and enjoy employment and housing non discrimination protections, I encourage you to look them up. They’re real peaches,” Natalie Weiss wrote on Facebook.
“Nebraskans like myself do lose our jobs, and sometimes our living arrangements, because of who we are, and people like the Nebraska Family Alliance are why,” the former employee added, referencing a nondiscrimination ordinance that would likely trample the religious freedom of conservative Christians, Jews, and Muslims who adhere to traditional understandings of biology and sexual ethics.
“When this person was leaving the store, I told them in no uncertain terms, and admittedly vulgar ones, that they were not welcome to come back,” Weiss admitted. ‘For that, I have lost my employment.”
“So, for those keeping track, in Nebraska, you can be fired or lose your home because you identify in the LGBT2QIA+ umbrella, and you can also be fired for telling people who fight for that status quo to get lost,” the transgender barista concluded.
Hey y'all. I deactivated my account last week, for reasons unrelated to this, I'm fine and still have messenger if you…
While most Americans oppose the basic idea of LGBT people getting fired or discriminated against for their sexual and gender identities, some exceptions certainly apply. That was also not the issue in this case. Furthermore, many state agencies set up to prevent this kind of discrimination have engaged in anti-Christian animus against artists who refuse to celebrate same-sex weddings.
In this situation, a transgender barista harassed a loyal paying customer because of her political stances. Natalie Weiss is free to disagree with Marilyn Synek’s conservative stances, her work helping Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and her work advancing conservative positions on social issues. But no employee is free to mistreat a customer because of a political disagreement. Transgender identity certainly should not be a sort of protection enabling employees to harass customers.
Cultiva Coffee made the right move here, and the owners were right to condemn those who harassed the coffee shop over the actions of this rogue employee.
Synek graciously accepted the owners’ apology. “One of owners of Cultiva just messaged me and apologized for what transpired. They said they did not condone the incident and told me I was welcome back to their business! I’ve always enjoyed their coffee and crepes, and I accept their apology,” she wrote.
Score one for American civility over rabid liberal activism.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.