After recently speaking to the owner of Pagliacci, Paul has decided not to file any complaints.
“Well, the actual issue wasn’t that he’d [the customer] misgendered me,” said Paul, speaking with The Capitol Hill Times, “but that when I corrected him on it he laughed at me, then later refused to apologize or recognize what he’d done was harassment. I also did get to put in my two weeks before I was fired, and talking with my co-workers about why I was leaving is why I was fired.”
After Matt’s response and talking with him, I’m also not looking to file any complaint. Seeing as they’re bringing me in to the trans 101 thing they’re doing.”
A transgender woman has accused the Broadway Pagliacci Pizza location of workplace discrimination after she was fired on Friday for complaining about a customer who deliberately misgendered and harassed her.
Dylan Paul, a 24-year-old student at South Seattle Community College, had been working at the Pagliacci restaurant Broadway for more than a year. Last Monday, one of her regular customers misgendered her and referred to her as “man,” and upon his return the following Friday, he refused to issue Paul an apology upon her request.
According to Paul, he replied, “I don’t really care what’s happening in your life, man, I just need my pizza,” and she responded by reserving her right to refuse service to him.
“I was harassed at work for having the audacity to accept myself wholly and as I am, a trans woman,” Paul wrote on in a Facebook post Monday evening. “My identity, the very core of my self was mocked and denied by a customer who felt entitled to do so by his own bigoted views.”
Immediately following the ordeal with the customer, Paul told her managers about the customer, expecting an apology from the customer or the restaurants refusal to serve him. Instead, the management did little to respond to the situation, prompting Paul to put in her two weeks.
“The company I’d worked at for over a year had just backed a customer’s right to trample my identity over mine to speak out against discrimination,” Paul wrote. “I talked over putting in my two weeks with my coworkers, and then went upstairs to do so.”
According to Paul’s account, by the time she went to inform her two managers of her decision, the management informed her that she was being let go on the spot for complaining to her coworkers and customers about the management’s inaction. Paul additionally noted that her Assistant Manager has a history of using transphobic slurs in her presence.
“When I asked the management’s help in defending myself, both my direct superiors and those within Pagliacci’s central HR dismissed me,” Paul wrote. “They told me a customer’s right to express hatred and bigotry trumped my right to a safe work environment; that my trans status occluded my basic human rights once I donned the Pagliacci’s uniform.”
Pagliacci Owner Matt Galvin has since issued an apology to Paul and has reached out to her to offer her job back. Paul told The Stranger that she’s not interested in going back and is considering filing a complaint with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights. Galvin believes that the misunderstanding was in effect his responsibility for not properly educating and training his employees.
“My focus has not been on the managers’ perspective, I’ve been focusing on supporting Dylan and righting this wrong,” Galvin said. “The feeling of being misgendered is awful, and we need to support our employees any time a customer or coworker, makes an inappropriate comment, or a harassing or bullying comment. Any time an employee is feeling that they are not being supported, it sickens me.”
While the ordeal may seem like “a typical day in a customer service position” to some, in the eyes of many trans* people and activists, such as Gender Justice League’s Internal Programs Lead Elayne Wylie, workplace discrimination is a serious concern.
“I think it’s extremely common to find that transgender people in the workplace, and society in general, are discriminated against,” Wylie said. “They are discriminated against in small and large ways, all the time, across the nation, much like Hobby Lobby recently discriminating against a trans* person.”
Wylie will be leading a training at the restaurant prompted by Galvin on “Trans* 101” awareness on the evening of Tuesday, July 22. Wylie was an employee at Pagliacci’s during her transition, and is relishing the opportunity to merge her experiences there with her current activist work to advance the company.
“I particularly think as a former Pag employee and trans* woman who transitioned while working there, I had a great experience and have retained many of my relationships there,” Wylie said. “Galvin personally called me, he knew I do this work and he knows I work with Gender Justice League as an activist. It was very exciting to have an opportunity and make some powerful changes to an organization that otherwise has a pretty good brand in our city.”
Wylie is hoping that the trainings will spark the necessary dialogue and inform employees and management of the systemic issues at play.
“You’d think that when a situation happens with a customer, especially in Capitol Hill right after Pride, that there would be a sense of understanding and solidarity,” Wylie said. “To not get that response or respect, it’s understandable that there was a reaction of ‘no more, not anymore, I demand justice.’”
Galvin says that he will be conducting a thorough investigation of the situation in addition to the training next week.
“It’s not about, ‘did we make a mistake?,’ it’s how we handle that mistake,” Wylie said. “I dream big and think big, so I’m looking for some powerful outcomes. Dylan has created some really powerful conversation. It’s exciting to see what the next few weeks hold for all of us.”