Tyler Brandt, a 16-year-old in Yankton, South Dakota, says his boss at the fast food chain Taco John’s forced him to wear this nametag at work. 

“He pulled me into the office and gave me a nametag that read ‘Gaytard’ on it and asked me to wear it. So, I put it on because I didn’t want to upset him and I felt that if I did do anything to upset him, it would cause me to lose my job because he’d be looking for ways to fire me,” Brandt said.

Brandt says he tried taking it off several times, but he says the manager forced him to wear it all day in front of the customers.

“I would always stay behind the till so they couldn’t see the name tag, I didn’t want them to see it, but even though they couldn’t see it, he would still call me by the name across the store and customers would notice,” Brandt said.

I want to throw up. Oh my god. (via Keloland

A 16-year-old Yankton boy has filed a discrimination complaint against Taco John’s International for an incident that took place while he was working for a store in the southeast South Dakota city.

The young man also has set up a web site to draw attention to the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered teens and to force punishment for the manager who he says demeaned him.

Tyler Brandt says he was forced by the restaurant’s night manager to wear a name tag that read “gaytard” during a shift June 23.

Brandt, who is openly gay, says he wore the name tag because he feared losing his job, and that he was berated with the homosexual slur in front of customers and co-workers when he asked if he could take it off.

Brant resigned the following day.

He filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. It alleges that Taco John’s of Yankton and Taco John’s International violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Brandt said he hopes his actions draw attention to the issue of workplace bullying.

“What happened to me was so incredibly humiliating,” Brandt said, “My hope is that this filing results in a policy to ensure that no other Taco John’s employee will ever experience this kind of harassment.”

The manager of the franchised store in Yankton, John Scott, said over the summer that Brandt had asked for the name tag himself.

“He asked the manager to make that name tag for him,” Scott said in June. “He (the manager) didn’t tell him he had to wear it. (Brandt) put it on himself and created the situation.”

A number listed for Scott has been disconnected.

On Wednesday, Brandt said punishment for the young manager involved is a prime concern.

“The manager who did all this … nothing happened to him,” Brandt said.

The idea that he “created the situation” is nonsense, he said.

“Why would I want to do something that insults who I am?” Brandt said.

The CEO of Taco John’s International, Jeff Linville, issued a statement Wednesday saying the company would cooperate fully with the EEOC’s investigation into the matter.

“We at Taco Johns are deeply concerned about the reported incident in Yankton,” Linville wrote. “At Taco John’s International, Inc., we believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, and in response to Tyler’s complaint, we share his belief that discrimination is wrong”

Linville noted, however, that the store in Yankton is a franchise and that the corporation does not control day-to-day operations in franchise stores.

“The decision whether to discipline the franchisee may only be made when it is legally concluded that a law has been violated by the franchise owners,” Linville wrote.

Representatives from the store in Yankton did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Heather Smith, head of the ACLU of South Dakota, said the complaint is a way to force Taco John’s to account for the behavior of the night manager and to acknowledge that the behavior is unacceptable.

“We think what happened to Tyler is deplorable, and this is a chance for Taco John’s International to make it right,” Smith said.

The ACLU also set up a website to support Tyler’s cause. Top of the site has a photo of Brandt holding his name tag and asks others to post photos of themselves holding tags with slurs they’ve been called at some point in their life.

Smith posted a photo of herself with a sign that reads “red-headed step child,” for example. Among almost two dozen others posted so far are a woman in a head scarf who says she’s been labeled a “terrorist.”

“We’re asking people to send messages of encouragement for Tyler,” Smith said.