A California waiter has been fired after asking Latina customers for proof of residency as they dined at an upscale eatery in the city of Huntington Beach.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Brenda Carrillo and a friend had just been seated and were waiting for two other companions on the outdoor patio of the Saint Marc restaurant when the waiter posed the intrusive and inappropriate question.
“Can I see your proof of residency?” the waiter asked.
Carrillo’s friend repeated the question in disbelief, to which the waiter replied, “I need to make sure you’re from here before I serve you.”
“It was kind of hard to process because we’ve never experienced this,” Carrillo, 23, told the Times.
After a short time, Carrillo’s sister, Diana, and another friend joined the pair and were asked the same question. It was at that point that the four women demanded to speak to the manager, who then apologized and offered to seat them elsewhere. However, they declined and left the restaurant.
“I’ve never felt so judged in my life. ... It sends a chill through your entire body,” Diana Carrillo told the Times.
Enraged by the encounter, Diana Carrillo decided to post about it on Facebook and Yelp, and as these internet ages go, it was only a matter of hours before several people started responding to the Facebook post and leaving negative reviews on Yelp.
After the posts, restaurant management reached out to Diana Carrillo to apologize. Statements on Facebook and Instagram—which have since been deleted—indicated that the waiter had been fired and that “this type of behavior ... will not be tolerated,” the Times reports.
The restaurant offered to host Brenda Carrillo and her friends as “VIP guests” over the weekend and to donate 10 percent of the weekend’s sales to a nonprofit of their choice.
The friends also declined the VIP invitation but asked the restaurant to donate the portion of the sales to the Orange County Immigrant Youth United, which advocates for undocumented immigrants living in the country.
Saint Marc sent a separate statement to the Times insisting that the waiter’s actions were “in no way ... representative” of the restaurant’s employees or management.
“We have always celebrated being part of the diverse Huntington Beach community, which means valuing all guests and treating every individual with respect,” the statement read.
However, the sisters were disappointed that the restaurant removed the apologies from its social media pages—an action it apparently took because the matter had been resolved.
“To us, that makes us feel like they weren’t really sorry,” Brenda Carrillo said.
And their encounter has left them worried about others in their community. Brenda Carrillo describes herself and her sister as “light-skinned Latinas,” acknowledging that they do not face as much racism and bias as others in the community.
“I’m more afraid for others in my community, people who are immigrants. If this were to happen to them, I’m sure they would be too afraid to speak out for themselves,” Brenda Carrillo said.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.