U.K. man Mike Jennings defended an autistic member of his staff after customers said they didn't want to be served by him.
Jennings said he was “astonished” when customers shunned the autistic member of staff, Andy Foster, on March 2, Manchester Evening News reports. According to Jennings, the 45-year-old began working at the restaurant recently and hasn’t had a problem with serving customers in the past. The customers who found Foster to be a problem reportedly asked Jennings why he would ever consider hiring someone autistic.
In response, Jennings and his staff took to their Facebook page to express their outrage.
“Today was spent rebuilding the confidence of one of our team, after being disrespected and socially discriminated by a table dining with us last night,” Jennings wrote in the March 3 Facebook post. “ [...] Here at Grenache, we employ staff based on experience, knowledge and passion for the job.”
Jennings added that he would never discriminate based on a person’s skin color, how they looked, how many tattoos they have, their dress size, religious beliefs or illness.
“We do not discriminate!” Jennings wrote. “If you DO.... Then please do not book a table at Grenache. You do not deserve our time, effort or RESPECT!”
The Facebook received over 21,000 likes and 4,600 shares in four days.
Foster said he was delighted when Jennings took a stand for him and told him that the customers’ response wasn’t his fault, Manchester Evening News reports. Foster added that he shouldn’t have to walk around with a t-shirt that says he’s autistic and that he should be treated fairly like everyone else in the restaurant.
Foster said he automatically assumes that when customers get upset it’s his fault. He always feels the need to apologize and go “into defense mode." However, Foster noted that he tries not to take the treatment personally.
Foster added that following his autism diagnosis seven years ago, he has faced discrimination several times.