The Taco Bell employee who used a racial slur to describe a Penn student was terminated from his job, according to branch manager Dontae Freeman and confirmed via email by a media representative from Taco Bell.
“We do not tolerate this behavior. This employee no longer works for the brand, and the franchisee is retraining its staff to ensure this incident will not happen again. Management has reached out and apologized directly to the customer,” Taco Bell Public Relations wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
In Young Lee, a first-year medical Ph.D. student, visited the Taco Bell at 1037 Chestnut St. at approximately 1:30 a.m. Saturday, after a night out with his friends. He noticed that one of the cashiers had used a racial slur to describe him on his food receipt.
Lee detailed the incident in a Facebook post.
He wrote that he told the cashier his name was Steve for convenience. He wrote he was surprised and “infuriated” upon noticing that the cashier had also written "Chink," a derogatory term used to describe “a person of Chinese birth or descent.”
Freeman, who does not work weekends, said he did not witness the incident. He said that the employee had been terminated, but could not provide any more details about when the firing occurred.
Lee said that he "didn't think it was necessary" for the employee to be fired and was worried that the termination might make the employee "more resentful, rather than acknowledging he's done something wrong."
The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly Chair for Communications Octavia Sun, a second-year master's student in environmental studies, described the employee’s use of the slur as “unacceptable."
“I’m happy to hear that [Taco Bell] is setting the example for other companies who should not be tolerating this word,” Sun said.
Asian Pacific Student Coalition Chair Soomin Shin, a College and Wharton junior, said the employee's termination was "a step," but added that “there has to be some bigger step.”
Shin referenced the appparent behavior of the other employees and manager described in Lee's original Facebook post.
She said the manager “failed to deal with the situation very respectfully and cordially” and cautioned that there should be a “larger dialogue” among companies like Taco Bell about educating employees on using racial slurs.
“There has to be some bigger step that Taco Bell should be taking because the fact that this has happened indicates that education and dialogue is needed,” Shin said.
Lee said he was happy to hear that Taco Bell is retraining the branch's other employees.
"At least for Asian Americans, we don't speak up that much, and I think that's one of the reasons why stuff like this happens all the time, and it's usually ignored," Lee said. "I just want Asians in general to become more vocal about incidents like this."
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