Sixteen-year-old Tyler Brandt is accusing his former manager at a Taco John's fast food restaurant of anti-gay discrimination, such as forcing him to wear a name tag reading "Gaytard," South Dakota TV station KELO reports.
Coming forward with his allegations, Brandt said he endured verbal abuse and discrimination from the manager out of fear of being fired, which reportedly led the manager to require him to wear the name tag this week — even in front of customers.
Brandt said the discrimination he faced ultimately led him to quit. He returned his work uniform to the restaurant, but kept the discriminatory name tag.
However, the restaurant's manager, John Scott, told the Associated Press that Brandt chose to be nicknamed "Gaytard," and was never forced to wear the name tag.
"He asked the manager to make that name tag for him," Scott said. "He [the manager] didn't tell him he had to wear it. [Brandt] put it on himself and created the situation."
Additionally, Scott claims Brandt was asked to leave work early on Monday for poor performance and resigned the following day, according to the report.
Taco John's provided the following statement to BuzzFeed in response to the allegations:
"At Taco John's, we believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. We take any accusation of workplace harassment very seriously. If this occurred it is deplorable. We require our independently owned and operated franchisees to operate their restaurants in compliance with the law, including equal employment and anti-discrimination laws."
"As you can understand, because this is an employee relations matter, the independent owner of this franchise business has been made aware of and is investigating the incident."