Taco Bell employee loses his job for calling the police on a deaf customer

An Ohio Taco Bell employee lost his job after refusing to serve a deaf customer named Brandon Washburn at the drive-thru window. (Screenshot: Facebook/Becky Rosemont Burch)
An Ohio Taco Bell employee lost his job after refusing to serve a deaf customer named Brandon Washburn at the drive-thru window. (Screenshot: Facebook/Becky Rosemont Burch)

A Taco Bell employee lost his job for calling the police on a deaf man at the drive-thru and refusing him service.

“This is my Deaf son getting discriminated against in the Taco Bell drive-thru on Dorothy Ln in Kettering,” wrote Becky Rosemont Burch on Facebook Wednesday. “He was trying to show them his order and they told him it was against company policy to take his order that way. Really?? Pretty sure the ADA would say otherwise. Uneducated people.”

On Monday, Brandon Washburn’s girlfriend sat shotgun at the drive-thru videoing his distress as employees refused to read a food order from his cell phone behind a closed window.

When one employee opened it, he handed Washburn a piece of paper and said, “It’s against company policy. I can’t do it,” then closed the window.

Washburn didn’t drive off, so the employee said, “I will call 911 if you don’t move…because we can’t take it.” Then he told Washburn‘s girlfriend, “And you’re also not allowed to record me.”

The worker dialed on his cell phone and closed the window, giving a description of the couple’s car to the police dispatcher. Washburn got more agitated, holding his phone to the window to communicate. He finally blared the horn to get the employees’ attention inside. One waved at him and flashed the peace sign.

Five thousand people reacted to Rosemont Bruch’s video and it was shared more than 13,000 times. “This pisses me off SO MUCH,” wrote a viewer. “I work fast food, and have 3 regular customers that are deaf and ordered this way, or wrote it on a notepad (now I have their orders memorized so they don’t have to worry about it). AGAINST COMPANY POLICY MY A**. It’s called being a decent human being.”

Rosemont Bruch did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. “He’s had to work extra hard, harder than everyone else to prove himself, that’s he’s smart and that he can do everything,” she told WRGT/WKEF. “So just something easy as going through a drive-thru to get food and they’re like no, he just didn’t understand.”

Washburn also told WRGT/WKEF with his mom interpreting, “It was like they were mocking me, making fun of me. And there was even a gentleman in the back giving peace signs.”

Officers told the Taco Bell staff that Washburn did nothing wrong and they even offered to buy him food, reported WRGT/WKEF. A representative of the Kettering Police Department tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the 911 caller reported a customer who refused to leave the drive-thru, but no police report was filed.

A spokesperson for Taco Bell tells Yahoo Lifestyle:

“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 this 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.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and bans discrimination against people with disabilities in their daily lives, including at restaurants and other public places.

“For people with hearing loss, ordering food at a drive-thru ranks high on the list of frustrating experiences,” hearing loss consultant Gael Hannan wrote on Hearing Health Matters. “And it’s not just the sheer difficulty of the conversation; we also get panicky because during the slower-than-usual order transaction, 15 cars are piling up behind us. We can feel the fingers tapping on steering wheels as the drivers realize they’re not nudging slowly-but-surely toward their morning coffees. We can almost hear the moment when those 15 (and counting) caffeine-deprived motorists start cursing, in beat with their drumming fingers...”

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