The first incident occurred on Sunday afternoon at a Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road location in Charlotte, when an employee named Caleb referred to the customer as “ni****” on the printed receipt. The customer’s niece took to Twitter to share a screenshot and to say that the incident was “ridiculous and sick.” She also added, “this is a hate crime, get Caleb fired!!”
Smoothie King responded on Twitter to say that the incident was being investigated, before providing an update that the employee responsible was terminated. However, just one hour prior to the company’s updated response, another Smoothie King customer in Charlotte experienced a different racist incident at the Davis Lake Parkway location.
Tony Choi tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he’s been to several locations throughout the area, and when he went to this particular store on Sunday evening with his children, he didn’t expect to have such a bad experience. When he heard a number of employees giggling, he asked for a copy of his receipt, and that’s when he saw that the employee taking his order, who goes by Zack H., had referred to Choi as “Jackie Chan.”
“I let them know on my way out that I was going to write about the situation,” Choi explains about his interaction with the employees. “I didn't want to make a big scene in front of my kids.”
Choi took to his Facebook to share a copy of the receipt where he shared his side of the experience.
“Zack H. thought it would be funny to put ‘Jackie Chan’ as my name. Being Korean, I find this very insulting,” Choi wrote. “I experience racism here and there and usually doesn’t bother me. Today I left this store furious on the inside.”
People throughout the comments expressed that the employee should be fired. And although Smoothie King didn’t directly respond to Choi’s post via Facebook, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Yahoo Lifestyle that the employee responsible for this second incident was fired as well, and both locations have been closed indefinitely.
“Both team members involved were immediately terminated and both stores will be closed until the franchisees and their respective teams complete further training on our standards and to ensure that nothing like this occurs again. Additionally, we are continuing our investigation to ensure that action is taken against any additional individuals involved in these situations,” the statement read in part. “This behavior does not in any way reflect our company’s commitment to creating an open and welcoming environment, and for that we sincerely apologize.”
Choi additionally tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Dan Harmom, and the location’s franchise owner got in touch with the customer personally.
As of Tuesday, there’s no timeline on when the stores will be back up and running. The spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the senior management team will be taking additional steps to ensure that inclusivity policies and best practices are enforced at all locations.
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