Ohio Taco Bell employee caught on video refusing to serve deaf customer
An Ohio Taco Bell employee is no longer with the fast-food chain after he appeared to refuse to serve a hearing-impaired customer.
Becky Rosemont Burch shared a now-viral video to her Facebook page on Jan. 2, showing her son, Brandon Washburn, attempting to order and communicate with employees by writing on his phone. The employees, however, refused to look at his phone.
“It’s against company policy,” one worker said before shutting the drive-thru window and walking away.
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When the employee came back, he threatened to call the police.
Washburn, 25, has reportedly frequented the Kettering Taco Bell in the past and used his phone to order without any problems, according to WHIO-TV.
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The fast-food restaurant has a sign in its drive-thru lane that instructs customers with disabilities or hearing impairments to pull ahead to a window for assistance, KSLA-TV reported. When he did, Burch said the employees would not take his order and also made fun of him.
WHIO reports Washburn refused to move his vehicle and police were called. Once there, officers offered to go inside and get food for him, but Washburn elected to go to a different restaurant instead, WHIO reported.
His girlfriend, who is also deaf, was with him at the time and recorded the video.
“It broke my heart because to me he’s a person just like anyone else. He just communicates differently,” Burch told KSLA.
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In a statement, Taco Bell said employees at the restaurant would undergo training regarding the company’s policies again but another worker is no longer with the franchise.
“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 statement read. “The franchise owner and operator of this location has investigated the situation and the team member no longer works for their organization.”
Burch said she shared the video hoping to raise awareness – not to get anyone fired. The video has been viewed more than 612,000 times as of Friday morning.
Kettering is located just south of Dayton, Ohio.