Cracker Barrel late last week removed some “Duck Dynasty” products to avoid offending some customers, the company announced on its Facebook page.
But then the company returned the products to its stores after getting hit with complaints, including one Fox News celebrity Mike Huckabee and another from right-wing Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins.
Cracker Barrel, in a statement to customers, said, “When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain ‘Duck Dynasty’ items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done. You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong.…We listened.”
The company apologized for removing the items amid the controversy over homophobic, racist and sexist statements Phil Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty” made to GQ magazine. Cracker Barrel then restated a commitment to respecting “all individuals” and their “right to express their beliefs.”
Cracker Barrel was long the target of a boycott by LGBT consumers and allies — and many people have yet to return to the restaurants with the faux-country atmosphere. In 1991, Cracker Barrel instituted a short-lived policy banning the hiring of gay people and allowing for the firing of some employees. Not until 2002 did shareholders force the company to adopt a policy banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The company also has been in trouble for racial discrimination and sex discrimination.
Today Cracker Barrel Old Country Store/Wholesome Fixin’s has a rating of 45 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Buying for Equality guide.
The company earned 15 points for a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, five points for some spousal benefits, 15 points for engaging in “appropriate and respectful advertising” and 10 points for having an LGBT resource group.
The company does not have a policy that includes gender identity, domestic partner health insurance or equal health coverage for transgender individuals.