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Olive Garden Manager Fired After Complying With Customer’s Demand For A Non-Black Server

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  • An angry customer at an Indiana Olive Garden asked to be served by a non-black employee and allegedly screamed at another black worker in front of guests. 
  • The manager complied with the request, which prompted frustration from staff and a witness who later complained to the company. 
  • Olive Garden completed an investigation and fired the manager, citing the company’s zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.

What Happened? 

Olive Garden has terminated the employment of an Indiana restaurant manager who complied with a white customer’s demand to be served by a non-black employee. 

The incident happened at an Evansville restaurant during Saturday’s dinner rush when the customer in question was seated with her party. The female guest allegedly became very angry and loudly requested a cup of hot water from a server that wasn’t black, a request that the manager honored.

But the woman apparently wasn’t only unhappy with her server. Amira Donahue, a 16-year old black hostess at the restaurant, told the Courier & Press that the guest also complained about her performance. She said the woman complained to management at least two times, calling Donahue rude and disrespectful. 

In a Facebook post about the incident, Donahue wrote, “All I said to this woman was ‘sorry I don’t know’, ‘have a nice day’ and ‘excuse me’ when she was standing in the way of [an] extremely busy restaurant.”

Donahue went on to say that at one point the customer stood in the middle of the restaurant lobby and started screaming at her in front of other guests. She added that the woman also made comments to a different employee about her as well, insinuating that Donahue doesn’t speak English and referring to her as the “other one.” 

“That lady said awful things about me ‘is she even from here? Is she like Jamaican or something,’” she wrote in her post. “If she doesn’t wanna be family friendly she should work as a strip club,” the customer also allegedly said. 

Before the woman left, Donahue claims she even asked for a refund despite eating most of her meal. “She should’ve been kicked out ASAP. But I guess the racist customer is more valuable than your black employees that were left in tears.”

Facebook: Amira Donahue

Witness Complains 

Maxwell Robbins, a 22-year-old customer who witnessed the ordeal, was so frustrated by what he had seen that he called Olive Garden to complain. He also confirmed to NBC News that he had seen Donahue in tears and took to Facebook to shared what happened.

“I’m never going back to the Olive Garden in Evansville,” he wrote before giving his account of the customer’s request. “The manager without hesitation ensures that they will not receive service from a person of color,” he continued. 

That couple should’ve been refused service for even asking something like that!! It’s disgusting that olive gardens manager would allow that especially with a very diverse staff.”

Facebook: Maxwell Robbins

Manager Fired 

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Olive Garden said that the company had launched an investigation after two black employees reported racial discrimination. The company said it completed its inquiry by Monday adding, “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and the manager involved no longer works for our company.”

Donahue spoke to various news outlets about the incident but said that the other black worker involved wasn’t emotionally ready to speak out. While Donahue said the situation makes her upset, she is glad to see supportive coverage and wants to make a change. 

The witness who complained also updated his original post after learning of the manager’s firing. “It seems like Olive Garden made a massive effort to ensure that this will not happen again and one of the girls I have spoken to seems to be in good spirits with the company.”

“We got done what needed to be done and it shows that we will not stand for any racism around here! I love all of y’all and I just want to say she is the sweetest host I’ve ever met at any restaurant, I’m glad Olive Garden took care of her. I haven’t heard much about the server unfortunately, I hope she is doing much better.” 

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Today) (Courier&Press)

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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