Applebee’s fired me after I booted bar customer making anti-Muslim comments, supervisor says in suit

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Applebee's Neighborhood Drink of the Month is made with tequila, strawberry and margarita mix, served on the rocks and with a Twizzlers straw. (Getty Images) (Scott Olson/)

An Applebee’s supervisor has filed a lawsuit saying she was fired from the restaurant chain’s Middletown location for telling a bar patron to leave after nearby customers complained he was making Islamophobic comments that included “Muslim people are disgusting.”

Amanda Breaud, 25, of Eatontown, said multiple customers complained May 13 about a bar guest making derogatory comments while watching a news report on a television about refugees, according to the discrimination suit filed Tuesday in Superior Court in Monmouth County.

One of the customers told Breaud that the man called Muslim people “disgusting” and said “most of them are terrorists" during a conversation with a restaurant bartender, the suit said. He also said “if it were up to me, none of those (Muslims) would be allowed in this country,” the suit said.

Breaud asked the man to leave and he eventually complied. She was fired a little over a week later despite praise from restaurant customers about how she handled the situation, the suit says.

“I didn’t want anybody to think that is something our company stands for, or I’ll ever allow," Breaud told NJ Advance Media in an interview. “That’s not my character. That’s not how I was raised.”

Afterward the man left the restaurant, a customer left Breaud a note on that read: “To the Manager – Thank you for standing up to hate + Rascism. Thank you for your service.” Another customer clapped, according to the suit.

Former Applebee's waitress Amanda Breaud says she received this receipt from a customer at the Middletown location after she told another customer to leave the restaurant for making Islamophobic comments. (Avalon Zoppo/)

The Applebee’s bartender, however, complained that Breaud caused her to lose money in tips, according to the suit. Later that night, the general manager told Breaud she could not stop people from discussing religion and said Breaud should have moved the customers who complained to different tables, the suit said.

The next day, Breaud filed a written complaint with the human resources department that was not investigated, the suit said. Breaud said she began experiencing insomnia and anxiety attacks as a result of the incident.

Breaud asked the Applebee’s area director to transfer her to a different restaurnt in Tinton Falls where she previously worked, but the request was denied, the suit said. Instead, Breaud was offered a different, three-day schedule, which she declined.

A week after the incident, the general manager fired Breaud for missing a shift, though she contends that she had a family emergency and found a coworker to cover for the shift, according to the suit.

“When I was put in that store, I would be physically upset going to work," Breaud told NJ Advance Media. "Knowing (the manager) didn’t have my back, it was literally heart breaking.”

Amanda Breaud, 25, of Eatontown, alleges she was fired from the Middletown Applebee's after asking a bar guest who was making Islamophobic comments to leave the restaurant. (Avalon Zoppo/)

In a letter to Applebee’s after her termination, Breaud wrote that the restaurant fostered a hostile and uncomfortable environment, according to a copy attached to the lawsuit.

“Asking guests who are offended (rightfully so) by derogatory remarks to get up and move does not WOW them. Imagine if the guests had pulled out their cell phones and recorded me telling them if they were ‘so offended’ they could move. That is not the message I want to send my guests,” she wrote.

Named in the suit are Applebee’s, the franchisee of the Middletown location Doherty Management Services, the general manager, bartender and a senior manager.

Doherty Management Services declined to comment on the litigation. Applebee’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Breaud’s attorney, Christian McOmber of the Red Bank-based firm McOmber & McOmber, said the defendants are being sued for retaliation and discrimination.

“The actions taken by Ms. Breaud should be celebrated, not punished," McOmber said. “The retaliation experienced by our client has no place in a civilized society and Applebee’s must be held to account for its failure to oppose racism in its restaurants and for violating our client’s rights.”

In addition to back pay, benefits and punitive damages, Breaud is asking the court to order Applebee’s employees and managers to undergo anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation training.

Avalon Zoppo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo. Find NJ.comon Facebook.

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