PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island state legislator was fired from her job as a waitress after her employer said her political views hurt the restaurant’s reputation.
Classic Cafe owner Raymond Burns said Thursday he warned Providence Democratic Rep. Moira Walsh that her “vocal political discussions” during her shift were interfering with her work. He said the final straw was a scathing online review of the restaurant that complained about Walsh.
Walsh denied that she had been warned against talking politics with customers and said the negative review complained about her political beliefs, not her service. The review discouraged men from patronizing the Providence breakfast spot because of what it described as “anti-male” views she had expressed on the radio and on social media.
Walsh said she got the job as a teenager and worked there for eight years before her firing last week.
“His direct quote to me was, ‘You know, we’re very proud of everything that you’re doing up at the State House, but your political views are affecting the business and we have to terminate your employment,'” she told WPRO-AM on Thursday.
Burns said in an email it was “not a case of political censorship or denial of her right to free speech,” but he said her public comments were hurting business.
Walsh told the radio station that it all started with a posting she made on social media just before Christmas saying “all my holiday cheer is for women, femmes and trans. The rest of you boys can kick rocks.”
Walsh took office last month after a surprising win over a longtime incumbent in last year’s Democratic primary. Her advocacy for raising the tipped minimum wage and her candid talk about her struggles as a waitress and 26-year-old single parent have attracted wide attention, including a profile on The Atlantic’s website .
“Did my comments make men uncomfortable? Clearly,” she said Thursday. “Social change comes at the price of comfort, and if you’re agitated, it means it’s working.”