A server at an Applebee’s in Rice Lake, Wis., says he was attacked by his coworker’s husband with a 2-by-4-inch piece of wood because the couple objected to his sexual orientation, the Wisconsin Gazette reports.
Tim Phares told the newspaper that he and his sister were in the parking lot of another restaurant in tiny North-Central Minnesota town on March 17, when his coworker Shannon Hendricks and her husband Rein pulled up behind them.
"Rien Hendricks "was getting out of his vehicle," Phares said. "He said, ’Fucking faggot, I’m going to kill you." Phares said he was then struck in the head with a 2-by-4 and knocked unconsciousness. He says he does not remember anything else before waking up in the hospital.
After he was allegedly attacked, Phares’ sister called police and identified Shannon and Rien Hendricks as suspects. Before the incident, a source told the Gazette, Phares had apparently had an argument with some customers who used anti-gay slurs. The incident may have led to the assault in the parking lot.
"The patron called the restaurant the next day and said he would not come back inside the restaurant until I was fired," Phares told the publication. He added that the restaurant’s manager, Tara Steinberg, said, "they were going to write me up for the situation, and if I got one more write-up I would be fired."
Phares decided to give his two-week notice but later changed his mind. After he was beaten, Phares says Steinberg asked him not to return to work because the incident attracted too much negative publicity.
Applebee’s spokesman Dan Smith denied the accusation, however, and told the Huffington Post that the franchise group’s CEO, Greg Flynn, actually contacted Phares and urged him to continue to work at the restaurant. He also said that Shannon Hendricks is still an employee at the Applebee’s where Phares works because she has not been charged with any crime and is not a suspect in the investigation.
Her husband, Rein, 36, however, has been charged with substantial battery intended to inflict bodily harm, a Class 1 felony. If convicted, he could serve up to three-and-a-half-years in prison.
Phares continues to work at the Applebee’s but says he doesn’t expect to be there much longer. He told the Gazette that he’s disappointed that Shannon Hendricks has not been dismissed. He’s also upset that the restaurant allowed a post to remain on its Facebook page that calls him a "faggot." Phares does have some of the public on his side, however; one user criticized the restaurant for still employing Shannon Hendricks.
"Its sad when in the year 2013 an employee who drives her husband to beat the hell out of another employee is not fired on the spot! I don’t care if it happened on the property or not. She should be fired for her conduct against another employee. You refused to give him back his job yet the psycho who was involved in the incident still works there," she wrote.
Smith sent a statement to Huffington Post, however, and said, "The husband of one employee has been charged by police with felony assault. The police have informed us that this individual’s wife, who works at the restaurant, has not been charged and is not a subject in the investigation. The employee who was attacked is still employed with the franchisee."
From our media partners EDGEJason St. Amand