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On Chick-fil-A, all sides agree: Don't bully chain's employees

August 03, 2012|By Rene Lynch

As he prepares to pull away, he describes himself as "totally heterosexual” and adds that there's "not a gay in me." He explains that he "just can’t stand the hate" and concludes, "I’m a nice guy, by the way."

The rest of the world seems to disagree. The video was posted online, where it quickly went viral. Outraged viewers pounced on Smith's behavior, calling him a bully, with some describing the encounter as an ambush.

It wasn't long before the controversy came to the attention of Smith's employer, Vante, a medical-device manufacturing firm.

A statement soon followed: Smith was no longer the company's chief financial officer.

Roger Vogel, the company's president and chief executive, told the Arizona Daily Star that he was "shocked" by the video, which he watched after someone emailed him a link.

"We obviously found it very disturbing," Vogel told the newspaper. "We thought what he did was inappropriate." The company did not return an interview request by the time this story posted.

While you watch the video, note how calm, cool, collected and polite the employee remains.

(Hey, Chick-fil-A, get that woman a raise -- and make her the head of customer service training.)

The video backlash helps wrap up a week dominated by Chick-fil-A controversy, stemming from comments made by Dan Cathy, president of the privately held company, in support of traditional marriage.

His comments reignited longstanding tensions with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, which has criticized the successful fast-food restaurant for using profits to supporting causes that many see as actively anti-gay. The LGBT community has been urging a boycott.

Not to be outdone, backlash to the boycott led thousands upon thousands of Americans nationwide to line up in the hot summer sun on Wednesday for "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." The result: a day of record-setting sales for the company.

More protests by members of the LGBT community and its supporters are scheduled for Friday, but it doesn't appear they have the same traction as Wednesday's "appreciation."

LGBT supporters have declared Friday to be National Same Sex Kiss Day and are encouraging others to show up at Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide Friday and stage a "kiss-in."

Some activists are combining the "kiss-ins" with Friday evening rallies. (In Los Angeles, a rally will begin at 7 p.m. at the Chick-fil-A in Hollywood.)

And in a sign of just how nasty this controversy has become, a Chick-fil-A in Torrance was vandalized with graffiti.

Our sister blog, L.A. Now, reports that restaurant employees arrived at work Friday morning to see the words "Tastes like hate" scrawled in large black lettering mimicking the chain's advertising across the back wall of the restaurant. Authorities are investigating.

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Join Rene Lynch on Google+ and Twitter. Email: rene.lynch@latimes.com

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