Waitress: Tea Party Bracelet Got Me Fired
She simply doesn't want to be tread upon.
When 23-year-old Megan Geller was fired from her waitress job at an Outback Steakhouse in Crystal Lake, Ill., in early October, she felt she was being discriminated against for her political leanings. Geller had been wearing a bright yellow bracelet with the words "Don't Tread On Me" inscribed on it "for months," she told the Northwest Herald. But after a couple that she was waiting on complained about the bad service they said they were receiving, Geller was let go from her job. And Geller says it was because the couple complained about the bracelet's tea party association.
The management at Outback rejected the notion that Geller was fired for any political affiliation.
"Megan Gellar was not let go because of her tea party bracelet," Outback's chief legal officer, Joseph Kadow, told the Northwest Herald in a statement. "On the night in question two separate tables complained about her lack of attention."
When Geller was approached about the dustup, she allegedly responded with an outburst, and Outback says that it was that behavior which prompted her dismissal. For its part, Outback reported to the Illinois Department of Employment that Geller was fired for misconduct. But the chain is not contesting Geller's claim for unemployment benefits.
The tea party faithful, meanwhile, has rallied to Geller's side. Commenting about the story on the grassroots conservative website and forum, Free Republic, one Geller sympathizer had this to say: "I keep a Gadsden flag in the back window of my Silverado dually. Does that mean the state troopers can arrest me if a motorist complains?"
The commenter, who went by the name Dacula, was referring to the banner on which the phrase "Don't Tread On Me" appears. And while the tea party movement has sought to embrace the image at rallies, often through attaching the emblem to the American flag, the Gadsen is in fact as inclusive an American image as they come. Having been used as a symbol of defiance throughout U.S. history, it was originated during the Revolutionary War. As the website Navy Jack, which is devoted to the flag, reports, the "Don't Tread On Me" rattlesnake was originally a symbol of resistance to British rule in America.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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