A Denny’s waitress was fired after two black truckers accused her of refusing to serve her while she continued to wait for other white customers sitting around her.
Damon Whitfield and his cross-country driving partner Hector faced the ordeal Aug. 13 when they made a pit stop to grab a bite to eat at Denny’s on Interstate 29 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Whitfield said the usual food stop quickly escalated after the duo sat down and realized their waitress was ignoring them and serving others who came in after them and were white.
“She just walked past us,” he said DakotaNewsNow. After they tried to order food again, the waitress accused them of “yelling” before saying, “You know what? I’m not serving you.”
The irate waiter called the police officers to the restaurant, who quickly apologized upon hearing the black truckers’ side, while Denny’s fired the waitress over the tirade.
Damon Whitfield was left stunned after being refused service at Denny’s before being escorted out by police
Whitfield said his driving partner Hector (pictured) tried to explain that they “just wanted to order some food”, to which the waitress responded angrily
The waitress who ignored her is dressed in green and carries a tray over her head
Whitfield condemned the waitress’ actions and said he and Hector were victims of blatant racial profiling.
He described how he and his driving partner were initially seated and given menus as expected, and the waiter even handed him a glass of orange juice that he had ordered.
But when Hector went to shower while waiting at the table, Whitfield said the situation became clear to him.
“She went away and I didn’t hear from her.” She ministered to people who came before us. People who came after us. She cleared tables. “She just walked past us,” Whitfield said.
When his partner returned, he said Hector tried to get the waiter’s attention to order food, which sparked an angry reaction.
“She immediately said, ‘I don’t appreciate it when you yell at me,'” he said. After pointing out that “he just said ‘sorry,'” he said she responded, “I don’t need you to call me to this table.”
“But I see you’re serving people who came after us,” he said back, prompting the waitress to demand that they “leave now or I’ll call the police.”
The waiter (left) allegedly ignored the two black truckers while serving others near them, and when they complained, she responded, “You know what?” I’m not serving you.
Trucker Damon Whitfield said the disturbing exchange left him and his driving partner “embarrassed” after they were kicked out of the busy restaurant before they could explain it
“Then she rips the menus out of our hands.” “Takes the orange juice off the table and spills some of the orange juice on me,” he continued.
“Then she comes over and makes a phone call, and I assume she’s talking to the police.”
Whitfield was in disbelief at the way they were treated and said Hector approached the waitress to try to defuse the situation and ask if “perhaps it was a misunderstanding.”
“Then she said, “There is no misunderstanding. I want you to go. The cops are on their way,” Whitfield said.
The hungry truckers tried to explain that they “just wanted to order some food” and tried to order from another waitress. The duo were stunned when she returned and embarrassedly asked her to leave, although she admitted she had “no idea” why.
“It was just embarrassing,” Whitfield said. “As I walk around the restaurant, I try to explain to people that we just wanted to order food and they are refusing to serve us.
“People still looked at us like we’d done something wrong.” It was like the more I talked, the more they looked at us. That’s why I felt helpless.
“Then I turned around to look at the police to see if they were going to do anything and then they said, ‘This way’.”
Footage showed officers quickly apologized to the men after explaining the strange exchange. One of them was heard saying, “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
“I just want the world to know what happened here so it doesn’t happen again,” Whitfield said.
After the conversation, the angry waitress called the police, who then apologized to the truckers when they heard her side of the story
Another waitress later approached the men and sheepishly asked them to leave, although she admitted she had “no idea” what the reason was
After a video of the waitress ignoring the truckers and then arguing sparked backlash, Roland Spongberg, president and CEO of Denny’s, released a statement condemning the incident and confirming that the waitress was fired.
“Denny’s is committed to a culture of inclusion and excellent service for all guests,” the statement said.
“We conducted a thorough third-party investigation into the incident at the Denny’s location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As a result of the investigation, the franchise owner took immediate, decisive action and the employee is no longer with the company.
“Denny’s has a strict zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of discrimination.
“We recognize that there were opportunities to improve service levels in this particular situation.” We remain committed to the ongoing training and development of all employees.
“On-site staff will immediately undertake a dedicated training program to ensure the team exceeds our guests’ expectations.
“We regret this incident and would like to apologize to the guests affected. “Obviously we failed to meet our own standards that day and are determined to put this right.”