KETTERING, Ohio (FOX 13) - A Taco Bell employee is no longer with the restaurant after video showed him refusing to serve a hearing-impaired customer.
Becky Burch shared cell phone video of her 25-year-old son, Brandon Washburn, attempting to show employees at the drive-thru window his order -- which was written on his phone -- at a Taco Bell in Kettering, Ohio. One worker is heard telling Brandon that they cannot accept orders that way because of company policy, and closes the window.
When the unidentified employee returned he said, “I will call 911 if you don’t move.” He did, and provided a dispatcher a description of Brandon and his girlfriend, who is also deaf, and described the vehicle they were inside.
According to WHIO-TV, Brandon has been to the Taco Bell location before, and used his phone to order during those times. The restaurant has a sign in its drive-thru lane that tells customers with disabilities to pull ahead to the window for further assistance, reports KSLA-TV.
When officers arrived, they offered to go inside and get food for Brandon. Instead, Brandon decided to go to a different restaurant.
“It broke my heart because to me he’s a person just like anyone else. He just communicates differently,” Burch told KSLA.
Taco Bell released the following statement to WHIO:
“Taco Bell has a fundamental policy to respect all of our customers and employees, and we are committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment. The franchise owner and operator of this location has investigated the situation and the team member no longer works for their organization. All team members at this restaurant are being retrained by the franchise owner on their policies.”
Burch said the intention of releasing the video was not to get the worker fired, but to raise awareness.
“He is not the first person with a disability to come into their restaurant,” she explained.