A restaurant in Tennessee is getting hammered with one-star Facebook and Yelp reviews after it was accused of firing employees who participated in Thursday’s Day Without Immigrants.
The uproar started when Mangos Mexican Restaurant in Lebanon, Tennessee posted a help wanted ad on its Facebook page, shortly after the restaurant opened on Thursday. The ad made it look to some like the restaurant was trying to replace employees who were sitting the day out as an act of protest.
Three now-former employees of the restaurant—Esther Tovar, Maira Mota, and Jose Ramirez—told Vocativ independently of each other that they showed up for work on Friday only to be told by co-owner Cristina Mcalister that they no longer had jobs, since they hadn’t shown up for work the day prior.
A Facebook post that appears to be written by Mcalister’s husband backs up that version of events.
The restaurant’s second co-owner, Teresa Figueroa, disputes that claim.
“I don’t mind [that they] express themselves,” she said when reached by Vocativ by phone. She said she told the employees they had to let people know they weren’t going to come in, but insisted that no one was fired. Instead, she said, the employees quit.
Mcalister, who the employees said was the one who fired them, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Regardless of the truth, many members of the community have decided that Mangos is to blame—and are hammering the restaurant in its reviews. Mangos is currently sporting a 1.9-star average rating on Facebook (of five), with nearly 300 one-star ratings, most of which were posted within the last day and mention the controversy. There are also quite a few five-star reviews expressing support for the owners, but neither side has much to say about the food.
Over on Yelp, Mangos is faring a bit better, with a three-star average… but the number of one-star reviews is growing.
Figueroa sighed when asked about the reviews.
“Everybody assumed that I did fire everybody and I didn’t fire no one,” she said.
“It was a coincidence,” she said of the Facebook post. “We do really need more staff for the kitchen and the main floor.”
Mota, one of the employees who says she was terminated, said she knew losing her job was a possibility, but thought the protest was important enough to risk it.
“I have illegal family members and I wanted to support them,” Mota said.
“It’s going to affect me for sure,” she said about the loss of income. “My bills have to get paid. I hope I find another job quick.”
Immigrants and their supporters on Thursday joined in a day of dissent, by staying home from work or (since many didn’t have the option of skipping), expressing their allegiances online in an act of protest against the views of the new Trump administration.