CEDAR HILL, Texas - A Cedar Hill Chili’s manager that took away a meal from a veteran has been removed from his position.
Chili's executives called and personally apologized to veteran Ernest Walker and thanked him for his service to the country in the wake of an intense backlash.
"We took swift action and immediately removed our manager from the restaurant. We are now in the process of working with Mr. Walker on a resolution that promotes trust and healing,” Chili’s said in a statement on Monday.
Walker said it was another veteran in the Cedar Hill restaurant that initially questioned his military service. That's when a manager got involved, asked for proof of service and documentation for his service dog and then took his food. Walker recorded the incident on his smartphone.
Lawyers for the North Texas Army veteran met with executives of Chili's and its parent company Brinker International on Monday.
"It was acknowledging that this was obviously a great wrong to him and it was against all their policies and this was a day that they set aside and go out of their way to honor veterans and instead they dishonored him, in really the most shameful way,” said Lee Merritt, Walker’s attorney. “They apologized and he graciously accepted their apology.”
Merritt says restaurant executives asked Walker for his input on what should happen to the manager. Merritt said Walker did not want to see anyone fired, but rather reprimanded or re-trained. Walker was hoping the situation could become a teaching moment so that something like this doesn't happen to anyone else.
Walker's attorney said his client has gotten death threats and has had to move out of his home. Because of health reasons, Walker was not able to attend the meeting with his lawyers and restaurant executives Monday morning.
Cedar Hill Mayor Rob Franke weighed in on the incident that has gained national attention, saying that instead of making the manager a villain, people should have open dialogue about being more sensitive and accepting.
"I don't like to see one person, one stupid decision define a community,” the mayor said. “"Get a life. I mean, this is the world we live in. If you're sticking your head in the mud and not realizing the changes that are going on around you and the great beauty in diversity, you're missing out on the joys of life."
At this point, no litigation has been filed against Chili’s.