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Waitress Says Brighams Fired Her For Wearing Political Badge On Job

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A former waitress at Brighams claims she was fired Saturday for violating the dress code by wearing a badge proclaiming "U.S. out of South East Asia: Harvard out of Gulf."

Karen Sigel, a student at Boston University, began picketing Brighams on Sunday and said yesterday that she plans to take legal action against the store.

The manager of Brighams, Paul Iannuzzi, said yesterday that Sigel was not fired, but that she walked out on her job, after refusing to comply with the company policy on uniforms. He added that the assistant manager, Paul Schenk, whom Sigel claims fired her, does not have the authority to hire or fire employees. Schenk could not be reached for comment.

Sigel said yesterday that after a long "pseudo-political argument," with Schenk, she was asked to punch out. During the argument, she said, Schenk insisted that she could not wear the badge while representing Brighams as a waitress.

Iannuzzi said yesterday that Brighams has a universal company policy against all buttons or badges. "If we didn't have this rule we would end up with very possible badge, knickknack, or docdad, he said. "We don't even allow smile buttons-it's nothing political."

Use Our Bodies

Sigel is handing out leaflets in the Square asking that customers boycott Brighams until "they rehire me, badge and all." She states in the leaflet that "Brighams refused to respect my freedom of expression...They think they can uniform their employees the way they choose and use our bodies to sell their ice cream."

Iannuzzi said yesterday that the company does feel it can dictate dress codes, and that this is explained to applicants for waitress jobs.

"She can think whatever she wants, but as long as she's standing behind, the counter she represents us," he explained.

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