MIAMI - The Cheesecake Factory says it has suspended a group of employees accused of harassing a customer who wore a "Make America Great Again" hat to one of the company's Miami restaurants.
According to WFOR-TV, Eugene Joseph, 22, said employees at the chain's Dadeland Mall location taunted and threatened him on Mother's Day when they saw his hat bearing President Donald Trump's campaign slogan.
Joseph, who was at the restaurant with his girlfriend and her family, told WFOR that staffers made insulting comments and tried to intimidate him, saying they'd hit him and knock off his cap.
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One guest at the table "felt uneasy due to several employees gathering around her table and cracking their knuckles," a Miami-Dade police report said, later adding that "no threats were made and no physical altercation occurred," WFOR reported.
The restaurant chain issued an apology after Joseph's story, initially reported by the Daily Wire, went viral.
"No guest should ever feel unwelcome in one of our restaurants and we are taking this matter very seriously," the statement read. "Upon learning of this incident, we immediately apologized to the guests in person. The individuals involved have been suspended pending the results of our investigation."
No guest should ever feel unwelcome in one of our restaurants and we are taking this matter very seriously. Upon learning of this incident, we immediately apologized to the guests in person. The individuals involved have been suspended pending the results of our investigation.— Cheesecake Factory (@Cheesecake) May 15, 2018
Joseph told WFOR that the Cheesecake Factory has not apologized to him personally.
After the suspension, The Cheesecake Factory announced that the two employees who made the comments are no longer employed by the company.
It released the following statement from Alethea Row, the restaurant chain’s senior director of Public Relations:
“We were very disappointed to learn that two staff members made disparaging remarks about Mr. Joseph’s hat that made him and his family feel unwelcome. As a result, as of Tuesday those two individuals are no longer employed with the company. No guest should ever feel unwelcome in one of our restaurants and we are very sorry. Our investigation is ongoing and we have reached out to Mr. Joseph directly to ask for his assistance. We are taking this situation seriously, however, not all of the information reported by the media accurately portrays what occurred. The situation may have been exacerbated by an all-staff meeting that took place during our shift change between our staff members working the lunch and dinner shifts – which may have been perceived as a crowd gathering near the guests’ tables. We look forward to speaking with Mr. Joseph to welcome him back into one of our restaurants.”
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