A transgender woman in Nebraska was fired from a local coffee shop after berating a conservative customer.
Natalie Weiss, who had worked at Cultiva Coffee for a little more than a year, confronted returning patron Marilyn Synek about her political views and told her she was not welcome in the Lincoln café, Lincoln Journal Star reports.
Synek is a communications specialist for the Nebraska Family Alliance, which has campaigned against pro-LGBTQ legislation and city ordinances. She says she visits Cultiva Coffee, also known as Cultiva Espresso & Crepes, about once a week.
“I’ve never broadcasted my political opinions in the shop before, and I have always treated the employees of Cultiva with respect and courtesy,” Synek wrote in her account of the incident on Facebook.
“Today, an employee of the shop approached me and said, ’I just realized who you are, what you stand for, and the work you do,’” Synek recalled. “’You are f****** bigoted trash, and we do not want you in our restaurant. Over 80% of the people who work here are queer. You are not f****** wanted in our restaurant, so get out and don’t come back! If you do try to come back, we will all refuse any service to you.’”
“It was packed and the other customers turned to watch,” Synek later said, clarifying that Weiss spoke “very passionately” but did not physically threaten her. “It was pretty humiliating.”
“What I did was unprofessional and I certainly would not want to be treated the way I treated that woman today,” Weiss told Lincoln Journal Star. “The fact of the matter is, that person and her political allies advocate for that type of behavior to be legal and they do it every single year in the Legislature.”
“We do not condone this behavior and never have,” said Cultiva co-owner Sharon Grossman, adding that Weiss was fired shortly after the altercation. “Our sincere apologies to anyone who had to witness this incident.”
“We welcome everyone into our shop and do not condone the action of any employee that makes anyone feel unwelcome,” co-owner Jason Anderson added. “Making sure people feel welcome is our goal.”
“While we’re proudly liberal personally, and believe in human rights and diversity to the fullest degree, let it be known that we would *never* condone treating a customer this way,” Anderson and Grossman wrote in a now-deleted statement on Facebook. “Whatever your race, religion, gender identity, or general political beliefs, we just want you to enjoy our food and coffee, and have a good time, and tell other people you had a good time. We’re sorry there was a moment when that didn’t happen today.”
“This morning, while I was working a shift, an employee of the Nebraska Family Alliance, and a former member of Ben Sasse’s campaign staff came into the store,” Weiss wrote on Facebook. “If you’re unfamiliar with Sasse’s, or the Nebraska Family Alliance’s stance on the LGBT2QIA+ community, and our rights as Nebraskans to experience equality under the law and enjoy employment and housing non discrimination protections, I encourage you to look them up. They’re real peaches.”
“Nebraskans like myself do lose our jobs, and sometimes our living arrangements, because of who we are, and people like the Nebraska Family Alliance are why. Their money, their influence, and their national political allies are why Lincoln cannot mount a successful ballot initiative concerning Lincoln’s Fairness Ordinance,” Weiss continued. “When this person was leaving the store, I told them in no uncertain terms, and admittedly vulgar ones, that they were not welcome to come back. For that, I have lost my employment.”
“So, for those keeping track, in Nebraska, you can be fired or lose your home because you identify in the LGBT2QIA+ umbrella, and you can also be fired for telling people who fight for that status quo to get lost,” she concluded. “Nebraska. It’s nice.”
“While we, as Americans, can disagree politically, it is very important to maintain civility when interacting with people who hold different world views. Tolerance goes both ways, and the division in our current political climate will perpetuate if we neglect basic civility,” Synek wrote on Facebook, later updating that Cultiva’s owners had reached out to apologize and invite her back. “I’ve always enjoyed their coffee and crepes, and I accept their apology.”