A Little Caesar’s in rural Virginia has found itself in hot water this week, after a staffer was found to have left an offensive message on a receipt for two local customers. Cousins Rosman Harris and Marcus Robertson were left outraged after they found the word “gay” written on their cheque in capital letters last Friday. The story has continued amid an ongoing response from the franchise.
According to Harris and Robertson, the pair were waiting in line at the restaurant along with several other customers when it came their turn to order. However, instead of being asked for their names like previous customers, the cashier simply took their order and moved onto the next in line. It was only after the food arrived with the derogatory phrase that they realised something was wrong.
Speaking to CBS local affiliate WTVR in the aftermath of the incident, the cousins made it clear that they were extremely angry about what had taken place. Rosman Harris stated, “I was baffled, and it made me semi-angry because I feel like it’s 2019 and we’re still having to deal with this,” before continuing, “It was this preconceived notion of, ‘Oh, these are gay men.’ So, why would you write that on the ticket? I’m not understanding that.”
Unfortunately, the incident wasn’t resolved even after the pair had finished eating. Still baffled by what they had experienced, the two men sent another cousin of theirs to visit the same store over the weekend, hoping to speak to senior management. Instead, they were confronted by the same server, who implied that he had printed “gay” on the receipt because of the pair’s “loud” and “rude” behaviour.
In reality, there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for any behaviour that may have been considered antisocial. Robertson has to wear a hearing aid due to a pre-existing condition, explaining why he had to communicate more loudly than other customers in the restaurant. As he himself put it in an interview, “...my cousin was, like, ‘No, he wasn’t being loud or rude. He’s hearing impaired, so when he talked loud that’s for him to hear himself speak.’”
Given the apparent homophobia and disability discrimination on display, Little Caesar’s had little choice but to act decisively. Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Tina Orozco, director of communications at Little Caesars, confirmed that the employee in question had indeed been fired for their behaviour. Orozco said, “This is a highly unusual, isolated situation at a store locally owned and operated by a franchisee. The franchise owner took immediate action to investigate this matter and has terminated the employment of the individual involved in the incident.”
Clearly, the circumstances of this case are deeply troubling and reveal that there is a long way to go before sexual discrimination can be said to be a thing of the past. Nonetheless, the fact that the incident was called out and dealt with relatively quickly suggests things are moving in the right direction - even if it is extremely depressing that we’re still seeing incidents such as this in the food industry.