Coffee shop employee says she was fired for criticizing customer's Trump 2020 pin

A man wears a Trump 2020 campaign button as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in support of Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone during a Make America Great Again rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, U.S., March 10, 2018.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The customer was reportedly wearing a Trump 2020 pin like the one seen here. (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

An employee at Open City, a coffee shop at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., says she was fired after confronting a customer about her Trump 2020 pin. The employee, whose name was withheld, told the Washington City Paper that her position was terminated after she told the customer that her “Keep America Great” pin made her feel uncomfortable.

“I said, ‘I don’t appreciate you wearing that pin,’” the employee, who identifies as queer, told the Washington City Paper about the incident. The customer and her friend asked for a refund from the store’s manager, which they received before leaving.

Jacqueline Johanning, a 20-year veteran and the customer with the pin, posted a Facebook Live about the incident, saying that after the woman behind the counter expressed her discomfort, so did the coffee shop’s manager. Johanning quoted the manager on her Facebook Live alleging that he said, “We have a lot of LGBTQ employees here and different ethnics [sic] and cultures and backgrounds that work here, and this administration as discriminated against them and we try to be tolerant of the patrons that come in here.”

Johanning continued saying, “I said, ‘Everyone is entitled to have their views but it should never cross over the counter that I as the customer should never know what that’s her view.’”

Johanning finished her video saying, “This type of discrimination I’ve never experienced before because of my political views.”

Johanning’s friend, Wendy Butler Heine, posted a photo of what she sarcastically called “the ‘offensive’ button”:

Open City also responded to the incident on their Facebook page writing, “Earlier today we were told about a political dispute involving a customer and two of our employees that should never have happened. We value and respect both of our hard-working employees and our loyal customers, and we never want Open City at the National Cathedral to be a place where political disagreements get in the way of having a good time, or a good meal. Please know we are investigating this incident and will consider disciplinary action, if necessary and appropriate.”

The Open City employee told the Washington City Paper that disciplinary action was taken and she was terminated. The cafe, however, told the paper she was fired for other reasons.

Johanning tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she doesn’t think the employee should have been fired.

“I don't think she should have been fired, she is young and still in a position to be educated about tolerance. The person I would have fired was the manager. He failed her and he failed me and he failed Open City that day,” Johanning says.

There were many social media reactions to this incident on both sides of the political stratosphere. On the Open City post, one user wrote, “I agree with OCNC response above. Open City should remain open and welcoming to all, regardless of differing political views.”

Another wrote, “So sad that one of my favorite places in D.C. cares more about profits than the wellbeing and safety of their employees! Minimum wage workers shouldn’t be forced to be nice to people whose beliefs fundamentally threaten their existence!”

On Johanning’s Facebook Live comments included, “Sorry to hear! It's getting crazy [in] the USA! Sad sad!!” and “What blows my mind is how, the same people that don’t want to be shown indifference or treated unfairly are the exact same people who are treating others that way. You can’t say you want to be treated fairly when you don’t treat others with that same respect and compassion.”

According to the Washington City Paper, the terminated employee wrote on her Facebook page, “When does silence become complicity? I only hope everyone, including those serving coffee on the other side of the Cathedral grounds, is empowered to act on this statement.”

“We've lost the real issue here,” Johanning tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The real issue was not about a button, it was about separating the personal from the professional.”

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