A gay South Dakota teenager who was allegedly forced to wear by his boss to wear a name tag reading “Gaytard” filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week alleging discrimination by his former employer, according to the Sioux, Falls, S.D. Argus Leader.
Tyler Brandt, 16, of Yankston, S.D., resigned from his job at Taco John in June after the manager made wear him the name tag. Brandt told Keloland at first he wore the name tag because he feared for losing his job.
“I would always stay behind the till so they couldn’t see the name tag, I didn’t want them to see it, but even though they couldn’t see it, he would still call me by the name across the store and customers would notice,” the teen said.
Brandt is represented by American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. His complaint alleges that Taco John’s of Yankton and its parent company, Taco John’s International, violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“What happened to me was so incredibly humiliating. My hope is that this filing results in a policy to ensure that no other Taco John’s employee will ever experience this kind of harassment,” he said in a statement.
The Argus Leader reported that the store’s manager saw the story differently.
John Scott, the franchised store’s manager, said over the summer that Brandt had asked for the name tag. “He asked [a different] manager to make that name tag for him,” Scott said in June. “He [the manager] didn’t tell him he had to wear it. [Brandt] put it on himself and created the situation.”
Taco John International released a statement in June saying that the company “has a strict anti-discrimination policy and does not tolerate harassment.” However, Patricia Hays, The corporation’s counsel, said the company would not investigate the incident because it happened at an independently-owned store.
“We think what happened to Tyler is deplorable, and this is a chance for Taco John’s International to make it right,” said Heather Smith, head of the ACLU of South Dakota.