Scribbled into the DNA of every person born beneath the Mason-Dixon line is a simple credo: thou shall love Cracker Barrel. This creates a lot of regional confusion for those of us born in more civilized parts of the country (this writer included) because, really, cool rocking chairs aside, Cracker Barrel is pretty blah. I mean, it's just breakfast food, no? Denny's is totally better.
But we digress. In South Florida, the Cracker Barrel franchise is again trying to fend off some nasty allegations of discrimination, this time on the basis of sexual orientation. At least one assistant manager at the company is allegedly really living up to the "cracker" part of the name.
According to a federal lawsuit filed this spring, 48-year-old John Bostick entered the chain's corporate training program in 2008 after 25 years of restaurant industry experience.
After logging classroom hours, Bostick was shuffled around to various Cracker Barrels across the country, eventually washing up at a location in Bradenton in February 2011.
Bostick, who is gay, started fielding harassment right away. The suit details a laundry list of instances, including: a time when an assistant manager saw Bostick buying candy and said "buying candy for your boyfriend? How sweet!"; an instance where the same manager saw the employee talking to a table of male customers, then told him, "Tell your buddies, 'cause that's what you all call each other, to visit with you somewhere else"; and a comment again from the manager about how a customer was "probably afraid he'll catch AIDS from" Bostick.
Every time Bostick complained about the good-ole-boy shit, nothing was done, he claims.
This isn't the first time the chain has been targeted with allegations of discrimination. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice slapped the chain with a lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination of black patrons in seven states. In 2006, comedian Chris Rock's mom went public with allegations that she was denied service at a South Carolina Cracker Barrel based on race. Here in Florida, in 2010 two white waitresses in Jacksonville sued the company claiming they were fired after reporting discrimination.
So the chain has obviously been struggling with issues of equal employment for awhile. Which leads us to conclude: just go to Denny's.