Teahouse Manager Was Wrong to Refuse Service to a Trump Supporter

Free speech shouldn’t be used to discriminate against those with political views different from our own

(flickr/account, modified by Kristen Frier)

(flickr/account, modified by Kristen Frier)

Darin Hodge, a manager at the popular Teahouse restaurant in Stanley Park, was fired after refusing to serve a Trump supporter wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in early June.

According to an article by CTV News, the customer was asked to remove his hat in order to dine in the restaurant, but chose to leave it on. Hodge refused to serve him and was ultimately unrepentant for his actions.

Hodge’s behaviour was uncalled for. The customer should have still been served, and Hodge should have held back from making any comments against him.

There are some cases when it’s acceptable to deny someone service in a business. For example, a private business has broad rights to ban customers as long as its policies are legal and don’t violate human rights. Retail stores can also ban people caught shoplifting. Casinos can turn away known cheaters.

The customer at Teahouse, however, wasn’t doing anything wrong, and they weren’t a threat in any way. We shouldn’t discriminate against others based on their political beliefs simply because those beliefs upset us.

The Teahouse’s general manager, Andy Crimp, told the CBC that Hodge was probably aware that his actions against this customer ran contrary to the company’s values and philosophy in terms of hospitality and inclusiveness. However, Lia Moody, an employment lawyer, told CTV News that if the company responsible for running the restaurant had a policy that covered grounds to deny service, they would have the right to fire Hodge with cause. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be in breach of any company policy. She also noted that it’s not illegal to refuse service to someone on the basis of political beliefs.

Trump is not well-liked around the world, but that doesn’t mean that his supporters should be mistreated. As much as we might like to question them about their dedication to the President, we have to respect one another’s human rights.

As human rights lawyer David Brown told Global News, an employee’s political views are protected under the human rights act, but so are the customer’s.

With that being said, a Trump supporter in Canada has the same rights as anyone else.

We Canadians know that our country should celebrate diversity, but Hodge’s behaviour wasn’t in accordance with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to the charter, everyone has fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. If we love and appreciate our rights in Canada, no one should be discriminated against for practicing these freedoms.

The red hat represents Trump’s vision for America, which millions of people feel offended by. Nevertheless, when I was working on a social issues project on food insecurity, I met a female Trump supporter at a community dinner. As much as I wanted to gag when she said she loved Trump, I kept my peace and listened to her talk because it’s not my place to judge her for her beliefs while we’re working in an unrelated capacity.

Sometimes we might find it difficult to accept someone’s lifestyle choices, but no one should ever be rejected for holding their own beliefs.